Queen's Policy Engagement

Getting creative with health

The importance of the arts to health and wellbeing has been highlighted by multiple studies. Claire Carswell explains how research at Queen's is exploring the use of an arts-based intervention for patients with end-stage kidney disease

Getting creative with health

Creativity is a fundamental part of human nature, and the use of the arts to improve health and wellbeing is not a new idea. Yet we still tend to think of the arts as the remit of the talented few with most of us giving up artistic pursuits as we leave school and get older. Unlike other behaviours that can be beneficial to our health, such as exercise, a varied diet and social support, we don’t think of creative engagement as something that can be inherently beneficial for all. Even with art therapy creative engagement is thought of as a vehicle to deliver the real treatment, psychotherapy, as opposed to the art itself improving a person’s mental health.

However this perception of the arts is being challenged by recent research that aims to establish the beneficial impact of creative engagement on health and wellbeing. This research has shown that participation in community musical groups can significantly improve anxiety and depression, dance classes can improve motor function in people with Parkinson’s disease, and cultural and creative engagement is associated with a reduced risk of frailty, retention of cognitive function and reduced risk of depression in older people.

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Article originally appeared on Slugger O’Toole.


The featured image has been used courtesy of a Creative Commons license. 

Claire Carswell
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Claire Carswell is a PhD student in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Her research interests include healthcare access for populations with unmet needs and the use of art to improve wellbeing.

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