imageThe Issue: Arts and Health

Creative arts therapists and community artists work in diverse settings across a wide spectrum of populations, assisting people through all life stages. The use of arts practices in healthcare has been proven to not only benefit patients, but also help contain healthcare costs—a win-win for everyone.

Economic analyses and cost studies confirm that the arts enhance coping and improve response to treatment, reducing the costs associated with extended hospital care and pain medication. Access to arts interventions reduces patients’ level of depression and anxiety, contributes to patient satisfaction, and improves providers’ recruitment and retention rates.

Arts practitioners work with a wide spectrum of patients in almost every setting, including but not limited to, nonprofit and for-profit healthcare facilities, hospice programs, long-term care facilities, mental health programs, schools, rehabilitation treatment centers, special needs camps, disaster response teams, psychiatric forensic units, veterans’ facilities, prisons, community centers, wellness programs, and military bases.

Despite strong historical beginnings in veterans’ hospitals during World War II, having previous research funded through grant awards from the Department of Health and Human Services, and having inclusion in federal programs such as the Older Americans Act, arts in health is still under-funded and under-researched.

Focus Foward Towards Solutions

An investment in the arts in health is an investment in America’s health.

  1. Find more details in the Arts in Health Issue Brief (pdf, 206  KB) in the 2016 Congressional Arts Handbook.
  2. Check out the National Endowment for the Arts’ Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development.
  3. Learn more about the National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military led by Americans for the Arts.