Australia - International Document

The Arts and Creative Industries in Health Promotion

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Davies C, Pescud M

Year of Publication:

VicHealth: The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation

Publication Type:


A National Arts and Health Framework was endorsed by all Australian states and territories in 2014; acknowledging the role of the arts in contributing to health and wellbeing.  This review, commissioned by VicHealth, aimed to identify: effective approaches for improving arts participation (especially in priority groups); programs or activities using the arts which have been effective in increasing awareness, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in five priority areas; and which of these approaches, programs or activities may be implemented by local councils.  The findings will be used to inform future strategic planning and investment for the VicHealth Arts Strategy 2019-2023.

Focus is on literature related to VicHealth’s ‘five imperative areas:’ encouraging health eating and physical exercise, reducing tobacco and alcohol use and improving mental wellbeing; and eight priority groups: young people 12-25, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, refugees, people in rural and remote areas, LGBTI people, people with a disability and those who are socially isolated.

A systematic search and quality screen identified 56 papers addressing three major questions related to: improving access to the arts; using the arts to promote awareness and change behaviours in each of the priority areas listed above, and arts initiatives which were evidence-based and could potentially be implemented by VicHealth.

The review is said to have highlighted a growing body of evidence which shows that a variety of arts engagement has the potential to support health and wellbeing in the general population and among priority groups. The evidence for impacts on mental and social health and physical activity (e.g. dance) were judged to be strong, whereas evidence for impacts of arts activities on health eating, preventing tobacco use and harm from alcohol were judged to be low. Little evidence was found relating to arts activities for LGBTQI people and those living in rural or remote areas.

Limitations of the review are clearly stated. In particular, the majority of the studies reviewed were conducted outside of Australia and so generalisability needs to be considered with caution.

Evidence Type: Literature Review

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Literature Review

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Davies C., and Pescud M. (2020). The Arts and Creative Industries in Health Promotion: an Evidence Check Rapid Review brokered by the Sax Institute for The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. New South Wales.