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The impact of Arts on Prescription on individual health and wellbeing: A systematic review with meta-analysis

Jensen, Anita; Holt, Nicola; Honda, Sayaka; Bungay, Hilary

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Anita Jensen

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Nicola Holt
Associate Professor in Psychology

Sayaka Honda

Hilary Bungay


Introduction: The evidence-base for the impact of participating in the arts for different aspects of health and wellbeing is growing. Arts on Prescription has gained increasing recognition as a method for fostering connections among individuals and communities, however, to date no systematic review of the impact on individual health and wellbeing has been conducted. This review aims to provide an understanding of individual health and wellbeing outcomes from participation in Arts on Prescription programmes.

Methods: Major electronic databases were systematically searched, including Cochrane Library; Web of Science; ProQuest; CINAHL; Arts & Humanities; Ebsocohost; Pubmed; PsycINFO. Other databases were also used: Google Scholar and websites of specific organisations e.g., NHS Evidence, Kings Fund, Health foundation, Nuffield Trust and NESTA and University of Florida Arts-in Medicine Repository. The review used PRISMA reporting structures. Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) templates were used for qualitative and quantitative studies, and the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT) for studies with a mixed methods protocol to assess quality and risk of bias. A narrative review of the qualitative data was conducted. For quantitative outcomes, a meta-analysis for studies that met inclusion criteria was conducted, and a narrative review made of secondary and heterogeneous outcomes and approaches.

Results: 7805 records were identified but only 25 records were included as studies with a focus on the impact on individual health and wellbeing. Studies were conducted in Australia, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States. Programmes were held in community settings, arts venues, GP surgeries, primary healthcare settings, and one school. Most interventions varied from 8 to 10 weeks and included a wide range of different arts activities. Qualitative themes included social benefits, psychological benefits and progression opportunities. The meta-analysis showed a statistically significant improvement in wellbeing, and the narrative review identified promising outcomes that require further evidential support (e.g., reductions in anxiety and depression).

Discussion: Arts on Prescription programmes are an appropriate intervention for improving psychosocial wellbeing, providing both social and psychological benefits as well as progression opportunities. We discuss the various qualitative and quantitative outcomes, along with potential ‘active ingredients’ and barriers to participation (physical, psychological and social).

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jun 26, 2024
Online Publication Date Jul 9, 2024
Publication Date Jul 9, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 26, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 9, 2024
Electronic ISSN 2296-2565
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Article Number 1412306
Keywords Arts on prescription; arts on referral; health; mental wellbeing; arts activities; social prescribing; culture on prescription; primary healthcare
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