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Arts and Health Australia

The Benefit of the Arts on Health Outcomes

This report by the Arts Council England provides a summary of 385 references from the medical literature regarding the effects of the arts and humanities in:

Regarding clinical outcomes, the report cites studies of the use of visual arts and music in cancer care, cardiovascular care, neonatal intensive care, medical screenings and diagnoses, pain management, and surgery.

Regarding staff outcomes, the report notes that the arts can be used in "nursing and medical training to improve communication, empathy and understanding of patients' needs", in creating a non-aggressive healthcare environment, and in the overall design of healthcare services. One gap in the literature concerns the possible effects of the use of the arts in the recruitment and retention of healthcare staff.

Regarding practitioner education and training, the report cites studies of the use of visual arts, music and the humanities in:

Regarding mental healthcare, the report indicates that the arts help "to improve the communication skills of mental health users", provide patients with new ways of expressing themselves, stimulate patients' creativity and enhance their self-esteem. Different artforms (literature, theatre, music and dancing) have been shown to have different effects.

The report also contains information about additional resources and databases.

You can download the reports below: