Aim of project: Although there is increasing impetus to explore the use arts on prescription, as advocated by a recent All Party Enquiry on the Arts and Health (2017), there is a limited evidence base for its efficacy. Nevertheless, arts on prescription has been reported to have a significant impact on well-being (Crone et al., 2018) and reductions in social isolation and anxiety (Clayton & Potter, 2017). The current project sought to contribute to the evidence base by evaluating the efficacy of the Bristol Arts on Referral Alliance (BARA). BARA provides 13 art workshops across Bristol, and 6 follow-on groups, embedded within a larger social prescribing scheme. Drawing on the experience sampling method (Holt, 2018), the evaluation repeatedly assessed in-the-moment affect for each participant, over each course of art workshops, in order to test whether specific aspects of mood (hedonic tone, stress, excitement) are impacted by arts on prescription and whether this predicts longer-term wellbeing.
Method(s) used: A mixed methods design was employed, including semi-structured interviews with participants and drawing on existing pre-post intervention evaluation frameworks to measure wellbeing, using the Warwick Edinburgh Wellbeing Scale (Crone et al., 2018). The mood of participants was tracked over time, before and after each art workshop, for the duration of each 12-week-long art course.
Key Findings/Learning: Analysis of the data is currently underway. This consists of a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with arts on prescription participants. The quantitative analysis will compare pre- and post scores on wellbeing measures and will evaluate whether changes in different aspects of mood (following art making) predict any changes in overall wellbeing.
Conclusions: Consideration will be given to whether the data supports previous evaluations of arts on prescription services. The efficacy of tracking mood within the research and evaluation of social prescribing schemes will be reflected upon.