Could the arts be good for your health?

The Lancet medical journal is set to publish its most extensive scientific research project to date exploring the connections between health and the arts, expected in early 2024. The peer review-pending series is led by the Jameel Arts & Health Lab, a collaboration by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Community Jameel, NYU Steinhardt and CULTURUNNERS.

Stephen Stapleton, founder of CULTURUNNERS, speaks about the potential impact of the series, saying: “The collaboration with the WHO means there is a path for the recommendations to reach ministers of health and ministers of culture in UN member states.” He adds, “The arts play such a vital role in our social health. People are talking not just about saving the arts but putting them to work.”


The Lancet medical journal has announced the biggest scientific research project ever conducted exploring the links between health and the arts. Compiled at a time when interest in the topic has been intensifying, the series aims to drive further investment in programmes for improving people’s health through the arts.

The series is led by the Jameel Arts & Health Lab and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is due to be published in early 2025. Pending peer review, the series will consist of four papers and one photo essay written by a team of more than 50 researchers from universities including University College London, Harvard University, University of Malawi and Hong Kong University.

Recent studies have demonstrated that the arts can alleviate symptoms of postpartum depression, help manage pain and reduce anxiety. The Lancet series will build on a 2019 WHO report on the role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing. Papers will reference art forms including dance, drama, music and the visual arts, and provide policy recommendations helping governments devise new arts and health programmes or scale up existing ones.

The Art Newspaper

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