Three virtual roundtable convenings of national arts and public health leaders, including practitioners, researchers, agency leads, and policymakers from the arts and public health sectors, were held to identify priority research questions and outcomes for the project analyses. Attendees were asked to identify and prioritize socio-demographics that should be considered as variables, as well as arts activities and health outcomes that should be studied in relation to key public health issues. The final report outlines the findings of a thematic analysis of the roundtable transcripts, a pre-survey, and notes from small groups discussions within the roundtable.
View the report here.
There are socioeconomic inequalities in arts and cultural engagement that may increase with age in older adults in the US, although participatory arts activities are generally more accessible than cultural events.
In adults aged 50 and above in the US, those who are older, female, wealthier, more satisfied with how they are aging, more interested in the arts, and have higher educational attainment and fewer difficulties with instrumental activities of daily living are more likely to participate in arts activities.
In contrast to the accessibility of arts activities, there appears to be socioeconomic inequalities in cultural engagement that may increase in older age due to additional financial barriers and transportation barriers
Key Design Elements:
Data from the Health and Retirement Study (2014) were used to identify sociodemographic, life satisfaction, social, and arts appreciation predictors of (1) frequency of participatory arts engagement, (2) cultural event attendance, (3) difficulty participating in the arts, and (4) being interested in but not attending cultural events.
Logistic regression models were stratified by age groups [50–59, 60–69, ≥70] for the frequency of arts participation outcome and [50–69 vs ≥70] all other outcomes.
Older adults of all ages who reported less appreciation for the arts were less likely to participate in the arts.
Educational attainment became a stronger predictor of arts engagement with age, as it was only associated with engagement in the oldest age groups. For adults aged 70 and above, those with at least a college education had 6.04 times higher odds of participating in the arts, 5.35 times higher odds of attending cultural events, and 3.40 times higher odds of being interested in (but not attending) cultural events compared to those who did not complete high school.
Across all age groups, older adults who were of Black/African American race/ethnicity and those with poorer neighborhood safety were less likely to report difficulties participating in the arts.
Citation: Fluharty, M., Paul, E., Bone, J., Bu, F., Sonke, J., & Fancourt, D. (2021). Difference in predictors and barriers to arts and cultural engagement with age in the United States: A cross-sectional analysis using the Health and Retirement Study. PLoS ONE, 16(12), e0261532. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0261532
For older adults in the US, engaging in creative leisure activities such as hobbies and projects, clubs, and baking or cooking every week is associated with reduced odds of depression concurrently and two years later.
Key Design Elements:
This study used longitudinal data from 19,134 participants aged over 50 in the Health and Retirement Study, with engagement in leisure activities was measured every four years and depression every two years, between 2008 and 2016.
The study fitted population-averaged panel data models using generalized estimating equations with a logit link.
Compared to older adults who did not spend time on a hobby or project, those doing hobbies or projects monthly or weekly had 19% to 20% lower odds of depression concurrently. Those who did hobbies or projects weekly also 19% lower odds of depression two years later.
Attending sport, social, or other clubs monthly or weekly, which are likely to include creative or artistic groups, was associated with 15% to 22% lower odds of depression concurrently and 18% lower odds of depression two years later compared to people who were not part of these groups.
Longitudinally, the odds of depression two years later were reduced amongst people engaging in weekly baking or cooking, hobbies or projects, and clubs.
Baking or cooking something special weekly, compared to never, was associated with 30% lower odds of depression two years later in adults aged 50-59, but there was no evidence for a benefit of baking or cooking in older age groups. It is possible that adults aged 50–59 were more likely to bake or cook for friends or family, and thus more frequent engagement in this activity was an indicator of increased social interactions in this age group, which were then associated with reduced odds of subsequent depression.
Citation: Bone, J. K., Bu, F., Fluharty, M. E., Paul, E., Sonke, J. K., & Fancourt, D. (2022). Engagement in leisure activities and depression in older adults in the United States: Longitudinal evidence from the Health and Retirement Study. Social Science & Medicine, 294, 114703. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.114703
After matching older adults in the US who did and did not participate in community arts groups on a range of demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related factors, these arts groups enhanced the positive aspects of wellbeing such as positive affect, life satisfaction, purpose in life, and perceived control over life.
Key Design Elements:
The study utilized data from 12,111 older adults in the Health and Retirement Study (2014-2016) to test whether participation in community arts groups was associated with concurrent and subsequent wellbeing.
For the analysis, the study used propensity score matching to remove confounding by a range of demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related factors.
Participating in arts groups was associated with higher positive affect (average treatment effect on the treated (ATT)=0.19, 95% CI=0.13-0.24), life satisfaction (ATT=0.10, 95% CI=0.05-0.16), purpose in life (ATT=0.08, 95% CI=0.02-0.14), and mastery (ATT=0.08, 95% CI=0.02-0.13) than not participating.
For older adults who participated in community arts groups, this participation was associated with a positive affect score that was 0.19 standard deviations higher, a 0.10 standard deviation higher life satisfaction score, and purpose in life and perceived mastery scores that were 0.08 standard deviations higher than if they had not participated in community arts groups. These are all small but significant causal estimates.
All of these associations were maintained longitudinally, meaning participating in community arts groups was associated with enhanced positive affect, life satisfaction, purpose in life, and perceived mastery
Citation: Bone, J. K., Fancourt, D., Fluharty, M. E., Paul, E., Sonke, J. K., & Bu, F. (2022). Associations between participation in community arts groups and aspects of wellbeing in older adults in the United States: A propensity score matching analysis. Aging & Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2022.2068129
Arts engagement may enhance the three domains of flourishing (emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing) in young adults. Emerging adults undergo a different “social ecology” of psychological experience than adults. Thus, separate longitudinal evidence is necessary.
Key Design Elements:
This study used data from 3,333 young adults aged 18 to 28 years from the Transition into Adulthood Supplement (TAS) of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to test whether arts engagement was associated with concurrent and subsequent flourishing across a range of demographic, socioeconomic, and health-related factors.
For the analysis, fixed effects regression and Arellano-Bond models were utilized to account for within-individual variation and directionality in flourishing.
Given the sensitivity of Arellano-Bond models to specification decisions, this study tested whether results from the Arellano-Bond models were robust to two alternate model specifications. Namely, the difference GMM estimator was used instead of the system GMM estimator, and all specifications of the original Arellano-Bond model were retained while the number of included lags used for the outcome, exposure, and time-varying confounder instruments was limited to two per participant.
Citation: Bone, J. K., Bu, F., Sonke, J. K., & Fancourt, D. (2023). Longitudinal associations between arts engagement and flourishing in young adults: A fixed effects analysis of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Affective Science, 4, 131–142. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42761-022-00133-6
The COVID-19 pandemic established newfound barriers or opportunities to engage in the arts depending on varying indicators including the most strongly associated factors of social support, social network size, age, race/ethnicity, keyworker status, and experiencing physical or psychological abuse during the pandemic. However, some of these predictors of engagement remained consistent with findings before the pandemic and may need to be evaluated for long-term changes post-pandemic. The diverse consumers of the arts brought forth by the pandemic offer new insights into the intersection of art engagement and population health
Key Design Elements:
The study used a heterogenous sample of 4,731 participants from the United Kingdom COVID-19 Social Study run by University College London, where engagement in arts was measured with questions asked between April 6 and July 23, 2020.
Logistic regression was used to analyze associations between predictors of engagement to the type of arts activity.
Citation: Bone, J. K., Mak, H. W., Sonke, J. K., Fluharty, M. E., Lee, J. B., Kolenic, A. J., Radunovich, H., Cohen, R., & Fancourt, D. (2022). Who engaged in home-based arts activities during the COVID-19 pandemic? A cross-sectional analysis of data from 4,731 adults in the United States. Health Promotion Practice. https://doi.org/10.1177/15248399221119806
For Americans living through the COVID-19 pandemic, time spent gardening was associated with reductions in depressive and anxiety symptoms and enhanced life satisfaction. Spending more time doing woodwork/DIY and arts/crafts were also associated with enhanced life satisfaction. However, more time watching TV, films, or other similar media (not for information on COVID-19) was associated with increased depressive symptoms. Other creative activities were not associated with mental health or wellbeing.
Key Design Elements:
A heterogeneous sample was recruited using a snowballing approach with a focus on reaching diverse populations. 3,725 adults were included from the COVID-19 Social Study in the United States, a panel study collecting data weekly during the COVID-19 pandemic. We measured engagement in eight types of creative leisure activities on the previous weekday between April and September 2020.
Fixed effects models tested the longitudinal associations of engagement in creative leisure activities with mental health and wellbeing.
The largest reduction in depressive symptoms was for participants who increased their time spent gardening from none to less than 30 mins per day. In contrast, increasing time spent watching TV from none to more than 30 mins per day was associated with increases in depressive symptoms. Increasing time spent gardening to less than 30 mins per day was associated with lower anxiety symptoms.
Increases in time spent doing arts/crafts, gardening, and doing woodwork/DIY were associated with higher life satisfaction.
Total time spent on creative hobbies was not associated with depressive or anxiety symptoms or life satisfaction.
Citation: Bone, J. K., Fancourt, D., Sonke, J. K., Fluharty, M. E., Cohen, R., Lee, J. B., Kolenic, A. J., Radunovich, H., & Bu, F. (2023) Creative leisure activities, mental health, and wellbeing during five months of the COVID-19 pandemic: A fixed effects analysis of data from 3,725 US adults. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.http://doi.org/10.1136/jech-2022-219653
Engaging in a greater number of extracurricular arts activities (such as dance lessons, music lessons, art classes or lessons, organized performing art programs) in early adolescence is associated with fewer externalizing behaviors (such as conduct problems, hyperactivity, and inattention) in mid-adolescence.
Key Design Elements:
A nationally representative sample of 8,586 adolescents from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study was included, with the study baseline taken at 5th grade (age 10-11 years) and outcomes measured at 8th grade (13-14 years).
Ordinary least squares regression was used to examine the individual-level associations between extracurricular and school-based arts engagement (number of arts classes and adequacy of arts facilities) and subsequent externalizing behaviors.
Poisson regression was used to examine the associations between school-level arts classes and facilities and the subsequent rates of externalizing behaviors reported at the school-level (such as class cutting, vandalism, and bullying).
At the individual level, each additional extracurricular arts activity engaged in (from dance lessons, music lessons, art classes or lessons, and organized performing art programs) at age 10-11 was associated with a 0.22 point reduction in the externalizing behaviors score three years later (which measured levels of conduct problems, hyperactivity, and inattention). This association was independent of a range of demographic and socioeconomic factors.
Individual levels of engagement in extracurricular arts activities were more important for subsequent externalizing behaviors than the number of arts classes or the adequacy of arts facilities available in each adolescent’s school. This may suggest that it is the level of engagement a child has with the arts (i.e., actively creating or skill development) that may be driving the associations with externalizing behaviors (as opposed to exposure to the arts).
Before accounting for sociodemographic factors (such as school type, percentage of students from ethnic minority groups, overcrowding, and location), each additional arts class offered to 5th graders was associated with 0.51 fewer externalizing behaviors in the school at 8th grade. However, this association was no longer present after accounting for these sociodemographic factors, which likely influenced both the number of arts classes on offer and the rates of externalizing behaviors.
Citation: Fluharty, M., Bone, J. K., Bu, F., Sonke, J., Fancourt, D., & Paul, E. (2021, October 4). Associations between extracurricular arts activities, school-based arts engagement, and subsequent externalising behaviours: Findings from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/gdk3t
The lack of consistent associations between receptive and participatory arts engagement and healthy aging was unexpected given previous evidence for links between arts engagement and each of the four domains of healthy aging. Our findings highlight key methodological issues that should be explored in further research with larger nationally representative samples, longer follow-ups, and more detailed measures of arts engagement.
Key Design Elements:
A nationally representative sample from the 2014 Arts and Culture Supplement of Health and Retirement Study (HRS) was included. From the study 1269 adults over the age of 50 who were alive during 2016-2018 and had complete and consistent data on arts engagement were included as participants. Participants from the HRS were originally interviewed in 1992 and were followed-up every two years.
The study defined health aging as a binary outcome (yes or no), where they used a multidimensional definition of healthy aging. During each wave of the study, participants must have passed four criteria within physical, mental, and biological characteristics to be defined as healthy.
Demographic and socioeconomic covariates were included as the baseline of the samples.
Citation: Rena, M., Fancourt, D., Bu, F., Paul, E., Sonke, J., & Bone, J. K. (2022, August 30). Receptive and participatory arts engagement and healthy aging: Longitudinal evidence from the Health and Retirement Study. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/q4h6y
For older adults, engaging in participatory or receptive arts for up to one hour per week (but not more frequently) was associated with better subsequent executive function/language. Similarly, engaging in receptive arts activities for up to three hours per week (but not more frequently) was associated with better subsequent episodic/working memory. These effects were of similar sizes to doing vigorous physical activity for up to one hour per week.
Key Design Elements:
Citation: Bone, J. K., Fancourt, D., Sonke, J., & Bu, F. (2022, July 1). Participatory and receptive arts engagement in older adults: Associations with cognition over a seven-year period. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/2ywtv
Our findings provide empirical support for potential benefits of leisure engagement on positive self-perceptions of aging, regardless of the type of activities. As the overall association appears to be stronger between leisure engagement and subsequent self-perceptions of aging, interventions designed to increase leisure engagement may be effective for improving older adults' health.
Key Design Elements:
The study included a total of 32,703 observations collected over three waves between 2008/2010 and 2016/2018 of 17,753 adults aged 50 and above living in the United States from the Health and Retirement Study.
The data was analyzed using the structural equation modeling (SEM) approach with latent variables being perceptions of aging and leisure engagement modeled by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). A controlled test of the lagged and concurrent effects of leisure engagement on self-perceptions of aging to identify potential reciprocal correlations.
Citation: Bu, F., Mak, H. W., Bone, J. K., Gao, Q., Sonke, J., & Fancourt, D. (2023, February 23). Leisure engagement and self-perceptions of aging: Longitudinal analysis of concurrent and lagged relationships. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/qzjvb
Physical and creative activities may influence important aging metrics, reducing age-related decline and keeping older adults functionally independent for longer, potentially limiting increasing healthcare costs.
Citation: Bone, J. K., Bu, F., Sonke, J., & Fancourt, D. (2023, January 12). Leisure engagement in older age is related to objective and subjective experiences of aging. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/dh6f5
For adolescents in the US, engaging in both extracurricular arts activities and creative hobbies is associated with lower rates of substance use, namely alcohol intoxication, tobacco use, and marijuana, both concurrently and over the subsequent 14 years, although the protective effects did attenuate over time.
Key Design Elements:
· For adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, engaging in one or more extracurricular arts activities was associated with lower odds of alcohol intoxication and tobacco use concurrently, compared to not engaging in any of these activities. Engaging in more of these activities was also associated a less steep increase in alcohol intoxication and tobacco use over the subsequent 14 years.
· For adolescents aged 12 to 19 years, doing creative hobbies three or more times a week was associated with lower odds of alcohol intoxication, marijuana use, and tobacco use concurrently, compared to not engaging in any of these activities. Doing creative hobbies more often was also associated with a less steep increase in alcohol intoxication, marijuana use, and tobacco use over the subsequent 14 years.
· These associations were present two years later but had started to attenuate by seven years later.
· Participating in more arts and cultural groups was associated with lower concurrent likelihood of being intoxicated by alcohol and using tobacco.
· Adolescents who participated in more weekly hobbies were less likely to have used any marijuana, tobacco, or alcohol concurrently.
Citation: Fluharty, M., Bu, F., Bone, J. K., Sonke, J., Fancourt, D., & Paul, E. (2022, February 15). Associations of arts and cultural engagement with substance use trajectories in adolescence and early adulthood: a latent growth curve analysis of the Add Health cohort. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/nz7ps