Scope of Arts and Health: Arts in healthcare embraces many practices including arts in medicine, design of hospitals, the arts and humanities in medical education, the arts in palliative care, creative arts therapies and arts applications with children and older people. These programmes are now found in a high proportion of health care settings: hospital wards, premature baby units, community clinics, traumatic stress and mental health facilities and in public health. Survey evidence shows these initiatives are spreading.
Evaluation studies claim a considerable array of benefits may flow from such initiatives, although in the words of the US Arts in Healthcare Society, research in the area remains ‘anecdote rich and data poor’
(Arts in Healthcare. State of the Field Report. Arts in Healthcare Society, USA, 2009,1-20).
Benefits claimed include:
• Improvements in patient wellbeing, patient and carer stress levels and mood
• Significant health outcomes e.g. improved lung function and lower blood pressure
• Reduced health care costs (less medication use & consultations per health outcome)
• Greater community engagement in health promotion and wellbeing programmes
• Improved end of life care for patients and their relatives
• Improvement in morale and retention of health care staff