Evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being

The WHO Regional Office for Europe released its new scoping review on November 11 which responded to the question of the role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing. The focus of the review has obvious implications for the arts and health internationally.


The review found evidence from a wide variety of studies using diverse methodologies. Overall, the findings demonstrated that the arts can potentially impact both mental and physical health.

Results from the review clustered under two broad themes: prevention and promotion, and management and treatment.

In each theme, a number of subthemes were considered:

Within prevention and promotion, findings showed how the arts can:

  • affect the social determinants of health
  • support child development
  • encourage health-promoting behaviours
  • help to prevent ill health
  • support caregiving

Within management and treatment, findings showed how the arts can:

  • help people experiencing mental illness
  • support care for people with acute conditions
  • help to support people with neurodevelopmental and neurological disorders
  • assist with the management of noncommunicable diseases; and
  • support end-of-life care

This is a ground-breaking document due to its stature and breadth. It also coincides with strong interest in the area of Art Therapy as a post graduate course of study at La Trobe.

Find out about studying Art Therapy at La Trobe

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