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Arts and Culture in Medicine and Health: A Survey Research Paper

April 27, 200727 April 2007

Arts and Health

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This Canadian literature review highlights creative arts therapies in modern medical treatment, the arts and culture’s impacts on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s “Key Determinants of Health”, as well as the relationship of the arts to youth at risk, the elderly, and health care professionals. Most of the research studies in the literature review were conducted in the U.K., the U.S. and Sweden. Some key findings of the literature review follow.

Creative arts therapies: Visual arts, dance, drama, music and poetry have been used to reduce anxiety and tension in cardiac and surgery patients, reduce pain and discomfort, provide better physical surroundings for patients and their families, and enhance the development of critically ill newborn children.

Key Determinants of Health: The arts and culture play an important role in “at least seven of the twelve determinants of health defined by Health Canada”, including personal confidence, control, social connectedness, education, and supportive physical environments. The report notes that “recent Swedish research even demonstrates the positive correlation between attending cultural events and performances and higher levels of well-being and increased longevity”.

Youth-at-risk, the elderly and connecting the generations: Some results of using the arts and culture to engage marginalized groups and the elderly include higher academic achievement, better “life success”, and the ability to address difficult social issues.

The arts and health care professionals: The arts can help reduce tension and stress among healthcare practitioners and can help increase the speed and completion rate of a variety of medical interventions.

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