Evidence: Art is Good for You

Some very exciting empirical evidence supporting the impact of engagement with art in the healthcare space - the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW) in the UK released a study this month on the financial benefits to hospitals that prescribe arts activities to some patients. 

Granted, this research is coming out of the UK and is not necessarily applicable in the US, but the findings from two years of research and evidence-gathering make a strong case for the arts' ability to keep people well, aid recovery from illness, help people live longer, better lives and save money in health and social service.

Illustration from the report by David Shrigley

Illustration from the report by David Shrigley

I love this quote that the UK's arts minister, John Glen, gave to The Guardian about the study (as he promised to act on its findings): “This sort of work isn’t window dressing, please don’t be cynical about it. It gives a dataset and some real stories that we can use as we go through the treacle of Whitehall.”

You might expect me to be interested in this research in the context of the never-ending saga of the health-care bill, and I guess that is relevant, but I'm more interested in its relationship to the movement of patient-centered care and and the rise of tech-driven primary care

Art is subjective, and it's personal. It also takes time and resources to administer in any context. So if there is a direct economic impact (savings) for hospitals and healthcare institutions incorporate art into their practices, there's obviously a stronger likelihood that they'll make an investment. That's also an argument for incorporating art into patient- and tech- centered care as that movement gains momentum.

And to bring it back to the corporate sector and CSR, if companies start to encourage their employees to take advantage of tech-driven healthcare benefits, perhaps there is a way to incorporate art and its benefits into those offerings. 

ResearchNatalie Lemle