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Engagement in the arts and well-being and health in later adulthood: An empirical study

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A participant sample of 102 retired men and women completed a self-report questionnaire to assess their active and passive involvement with each of six forms of artistic pursuits, plus measures of well-being and self-rated health (SRH). Although the study was partly exploratory, it was hypothesized that there would be significant and positive links between artistic involvement and ratings for both well-being and physical health. Results showed that 99% of participants recorded at least some engagement with the arts at the passive level, and 78% at the active level. Literature was the overall highest ranked art form, with instrumental music coming second. Contrary to hypotheses, there were no significant correlations between involvement in the arts and either well-being or SRH. It was speculated that, despite this, the reason for the relatively high involvement with the arts was because participants simply based their responses on the extent to which they regarded their involvement in these pursuits as meaningful and pleasurable leisure occupations. It was suggested that all who are concerned with the mental and physical health of older people, should encourage not only participation in the arts as such, but in active rather than just passive pursuits.
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Keywords: activities; arts; health; older adults; well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of the Highlands and Islands 2: Christian Council on Ageing

Publication date: April 8, 2011

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  • The Journal of Applied Arts and Health serves a wide community of artists, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers evidencing the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary use of arts in health and arts for health. It provides a forum for the publication and debate within an interdisciplinary field of arts in healthcare and health promotion. The journal defines 'health' broadly which includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and community health.
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