Arts on Prescription: A Field Guide for US Communities offers a roadmap for communities to develop programs that formally integrate arts, culture, and nature resources into local health and social care systems.
Arts on prescription programs allow healthcare providers and social service agencies to "prescribe" arts activities, cultural experiences, and time in nature to support their patients' or clients' health, wellbeing and quality of life.
Explore key features of the Guide:
- Centering Health Equity and the Community
A core aim of arts on prescription is to advance health equity by increasing access to community resources that support whole health. To achieve this, the Guide emphasizes leading with values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism. It provides practical strategies for ensuring programs are safe, welcoming, and responsive to all community members, such as training staff in trauma-informed approaches.
Throughout, the Guide emphasizes the importance of community-centered, collaborative work that draws upon the voices and priorities of those most impacted by the program (e.g., community members, patients, and “end users”). The Guide offers support for this work, explaining the value of gathering an inclusive team of advisors, conducting collaborative asset mapping to identify existing resources, and undertaking needs assessments to pinpoint community priorities. Centering historically excluded populations as partners and leaders is essential to challenge inequitable societal patterns.
- Key Questions for Developing Programs
To support program creation, the Guide poses four key questions to drive program creation:
- What local arts, cultural and nature resources can we refer people to, and what evidence supports their benefits? Resources should align with community needs and interests and have demonstrated health impacts.
- How will we build partnerships between healthcare/social service agencies and arts/culture organizations? Effective partnerships require clear communication, mutual understanding and responding to all partners' goals, needs and limitations.
- How will we create streamlined systems for making and tracking referrals? Technology platforms are emerging to coordinate referrals and document participation. But programs can also start small with basic tracking methods.
- How will we evaluate impacts and continuously improve? Both quantitative data on outcomes and qualitative feedback from participants are valuable for refining programs.
The Field Guide takes the reader through each of these questions, offering resources and recommendations for practical application.
- Real-World Models
The Field Guide spotlights real-world examples of arts on prescription programs in the US that illustrate the feasibility and promise of these programs, and the diverse ways in which they are carried out. Below are a few examples the Guide shares stories about:
- The CultureRx: Social Prescription Pilot in Massachusetts, which allows healthcare providers to prescribe arts and culture experiences at partner organizations. An evaluation study showed promising results for both patients and health care providers, and illuminated the need for wraparound support services to facilitate participation.
- A collaboration between the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield that provides arts prescriptions to insurance members who are at risk of overusing healthcare.
- Art Pharmacy, an Atlanta-based company that is linking US clinical providers to local arts organizations through care navigators and a proprietary platform.
- Arts on Prescription: A Field Guide for US Communities
Golden, T.L., Bantham, A., Mason, K., Sonke, J., Swaback, K., Kuge, M.N., Lokuta, A.M., Caven, J., Shan, M., Clinesmith, R., Keene, K., Manhas, N. (2023). Arts on Prescription: A Field Guide for US Communities. Mass Cultural Council / University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine.
The authors wish to thank Mass Cultural Council for its vision and funding for this project. We also wish to acknowledge that “CultureRx: Social Prescription,” the initiative from which this Guide emerged, would not have been possible without the vision of former Executive Director Anita Walker, the support of current Executive Director Michael J. Bobbitt, and the insight and guidance of Erik Holmgren, Ed.D. and Käthe Swaback, MA, ATR. We would also like to express gratitude to the following individuals for their insights and contributions to the development of the Guide: Nicole Morgan; Lisa Wong, MD; Brooke DiGiovanni Evans, Ed.M; Catriona Towriss, PhD; Reena Shukla, MPH; Elizabeth Glass, PhD; and Daniel Morse.
We additionally thank the practitioners and providers who agreed to be interviewed for this project, as well as the many organizations, initiatives, and communities whose early efforts in arts on prescription have informed and inspired our work. The EpiArts Lab at the University of Florida wishes to thank its partners and funders, including the Social Biobehavioural Research Group at University College London, the National Endowment for the Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation, Americans for the Arts, the Dharma Endowment Foundation, and One Nation/One Project. We also wish to acknowledge the dissemination support provided by the Jameel Arts & Health Lab, established in collaboration with the World Health Organization.