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Research relevant to arts and health.

10 keys to happier living
 Evidence suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people's happiness and well-being:

A Bird in a Gilded Cage
Clive Parkinson, director of Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University and member of the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, presents A Bird in a Gilded Cage which suggests that the arts might offer something of an antidote to the way we support people affected by memory loss.

A New Age
An examination of the changing state of funding for arts activity with, by and for older people in England, by London Arts in Health Forum with the Baring Foundation.

A review of the Social Impacts of Culture and Sport
A DCMS report reviewing the current evidence base on the social impacts of culture and sport affirms their value, but has found significant deficiencies and ‘evidence gaps’ in the research literature. 

After You Are Two: exemplary practice in participatory arts with older people
Based on visits to a wide range of projects funded by the Baring Foundation, Arts Adviser Kate Organ has sought distil what is important in working with older people and the significance it has for an artist's own practice 

Ageing Artfully
The Baring Foundation 's Ageing Artfully report  sets the agenda for how to move forward with arts work.

Analysis of health and educational benefits of sport and culture
DCMS has released a report that further develops the evidence base around the social and wellbeing value of culture and sport:

Art does heal
Researchers have found that feelings of wonder and amazement lower the levels of chemicals that can trigger diabetes, heart attacks and other illnesses   See:

Art may delay the onset of dementia
New research indicates that participation in arts and craft activities in middle and old age may delay the development in very old age of the cognitive problems that often lead to dementia. See the report here

Arts, Health and Wellbeing Beyond the Millennium: How far have we come and where do we want to go?
This research report by the Royal Society for Public Health gives an overview of the arts and health field. It provides a review of the evidence for the benefits of the arts to health, as well as the policy context of commissioning arts and health initiatives.

Arts-based dementia intervention improves wellbeing
View a RADIQL 4 minute promotional film here: and read more about Age Exchange here:

Benefits of reading for people with dementia
Figures released from English public libraries show that since the launch of Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia in January 2015, national loans of the books in the scheme have nearly trebled.

Changing Perceptions
- disability dance research
Documents available to download which Dance4, the Regional Dance Agency have commissioned, include:
• Barriers to dance training for young people with disabilities, and recommendations for overcoming these.
• The identification and development of talented young dancers with disabilities.
• A summary document highlighting key findings from the research

Comics used for health information
A study has shown that educational comics can support understanding of factual health information through providing simple explanations free from jargon and through the effective use of images. See:

Community singing and mental health-related quality of life for older people
Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness as examined through a randomised control trial.

Cultural activities, artforms and wellbeing
Arts Council England report based on a research study by economists Daniel Fujiwara and George MacKerron, analysing data from Mappiness – an iPhone app that allows users to measure their own wellbeing via their phones.

Dance returns the joy of movement
Scientists are beginning to study whether dance does something for people with Parkinson's that more typical physical therapy can't achieve

Dancing for people living with Parkinson's
A mixed-methods study into ballet for people living with Parkinson's, led by English National Ballet. Dancing may offer benefit to people with Parkinson's through its intellectual, artistic, social and physical aspects.

Dementia and Imagination
On-going multi-disciplinary research project across three large research sites in Wales, Newcastle and Derbyshire; the intervention aims to maximise key ingredients linked to increased well-being and social connectivity (or sense of belonging) in people with dementia and explore their impact. See:

Dementia in the family - the impact on carers
This report from Alzheimer's Research UK highlights the the realities of daily life for carers who are looking after their loved ones

Do arts activities improve the quality of life in older people in care homes?
A detailed report analysing the findings from Arts Derbyshire's arts:impact programme of arts activity in care homes. 

edna (energise dance nourish art) evaluation 
Findings from this small scale pilot project suggest that dance and arts programmes have the potential to improve both physiological and psychosocial wellbeing of older people. It is recommended that commissioning agencies should consider including funding for such interventions in future plans and also support continuing evaluation to increase generalizability and to look at other variables in the physiological and psychological domains. See: 

Exploring the Longitudinal Relationship between Arts Engagement and Health
A research-based report, published by Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University, revealing that engagement with arts and culture generally has a positive long-term effect on health and wellbeing, including a significant association between engaging with the arts and longer lives better lived.

Fully Engaged and Culturally Connected - arts and health in Derbyshire
Fully Engaged and Culturally Connected, a report commissioned by Derbyshire Primary Care Trust and Derbyshire Community Health Services in 2009, explores the potential of culture and the arts across healthcare services in the County

Health and wellbeing, the contribution of the arts and humanities
A new publication highlighting the contribution of the arts and humanities to enhancing health and wellbeing has been produced by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Health and wellbeing benefits from public libraries
Research published by Arts Council England has found a link between using libraries and good health amounting to a saving to the NHS of £27.5m per year: 

Impacts of music in early years
The London Early Years Music Network has published an evidence review exploring the impacts of music on young children’s physical, mental and psychological development:

Libraries for health and wellbeing
‘The Independent Library Report for England’ calls on local authorities to share learning and combine resources to support their role in providing health information and hosting community events.

Links between literacy and health
See: National Literacy Trust Hubs: Understanding the role of literacy in public health.

Links Between Social Connections and Wellbeing in Later Life
New research from University College London provides evidence of the link between social connections in later life and wellbeing:

Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality
US researchers have urged public health bodies to take more notice of loneliness and social isolation arguing both are as damaging to good health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day:

Mental capital and wellbeing
This report, compiled in 2008 by Foresight, a government think tank, concludes that five simple steps incorporated into daily life can fortify mental health. This can contribute to a more productive and fulfilling life.

Museums and happiness: The value of participating in museums and the arts
The Happy Museum Project has published this report on the role of museums in fostering happiness and wellbeing, by economist Daniel Fujiwara from L.S.E.

Music reduces anxiety
Music boosts the body's immune system and is more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before a surgery, a research review from two psychologists at Montreal’s McGill University suggests.

Music performance benefits health
Performance of music elevates pain threshold and positive affect: implications for the evolutionary function of music – a paper proposing that it is the active performance of music that generates the endorphin high, not the music itself, and discussing the implications of this in the context of community bonding mechanisms that commonly involve dance and music-making.

Older Men Moving
Green Candle Dance Company ran a project in Tower Hamlets which initiated an intercultural dance class for overlooked groups of disadvantaged men. Testing showed health and social improvements. See:

Participative arts for people living with a dementia 
The review explores the many benefits of the arts for those with dementia but also the knowledge gaps in the field.

Prescribing the arts for better health 
What are the opportunities for arts organisations interested in delivering ‘on prescription’ schemes?  And do they outweigh the challenges? Arts and health is a focus for many regional cultural organisations according to a recent study by Dave O’Brien called ‘What to expect from Tory cultural policy: where the axe will fall’. Read the article here

Relationship between arts engagement and health
Engaging with arts and culture has been shown to have a positive impact on health and wellbeing in the long term.
Download the report here: 

Singing is beneficial for memory and mood
Study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease concludes that singing is beneficial for memory and mood especially in early dementia.

Tackling Loneliness - A role for the arts
The Baring Foundation and the Campaign to End Loneliness have come together to promote the case for the arts as a powerful tool to tackle the scourge of loneliness among older people.     

The biological effects of Sing With Us
Tenovus Cancer Care worked with the Royal College of Music and Imperial College, London to test the biological effects of singing in their choir members.The research shows that singing is effective at reducing anxiety and depression and has a positive impact on the immune system. Click here for more information and a link to the full report. 

The links between social connections and wellbeing in later life
University College London report shows evidence of the link between social connections in later life and wellbeing.
To download the report go to:

The power of music
This study draws together different strands of research into the impacts of music making on the development of children and young people: 

Using art therapy to treat long term health conditions
Article in the Health Service Journal discusses use of arts based therapy programmes and their impact on chronic health conditions:

Wellbeing in four policy areas
A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics, concludes that the DCMS and the arts sector more generally should use ‘wellbeing analysis’ to make a better case for public spending on the arts and culture, as this approach is better able to “value nonmarket goods, and goods which we value for reasons that have little to do with the market”. See:

Winter Fires
Winter Fires, written by Francois Matarasso in association with the Baring Foundation, explores how the practice of art can change not the fact but the experience of old age: a free PDF 

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Angela Thompson

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