NorthEast Thames trainee, Dr Laura-Jane Smith, has published a comment article in BMJ careers arguing that “more doctors should engage with arts in health.” This stems from her work as a trustee of a charity, the London Arts in Health Forum (LAHF), and her belief that many patients could benefit from an approach to health that encompasses more than a narrow focus on diagnosis and drugs.
She and co-author Damian Hebron highlight the fact that “Over recent years there has been a growing recognition that by supplementing medicine and care, the arts can improve the health of people who experience mental or physical health problems. Engaging in the arts can also promote the prevention of disease, improve healthcare environments, and benefit staff retention.”
There is growing interest in this area, with an All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing now having the support of a researcher to capture outputs of their meetings, and NICE guidance published just this week on Community engagement: improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities.
The article provides examples of the wide diversity of arts in health practice, and reviews some of the evidence for the impact of arts engagement in general, and for RCTs on projects working with specific patient groups. It also provides a list of ways to get involved in arts and health.
The print version has nice pictures, but you can also read the article online which has additional tables: L-J Smith & D Hebron: More doctors should engage with arts and health, BMJ careers, March 2016.
LAHF will be running an introductory training event on arts in health on the evening of 30th June at UCL Macmillan Cancer Centre which has been approved for RCP CPD points. Booking opens soon (will incur a cost). Email LJ for more details or follow LAHF on Twitter. Creativity and Wellbeing Week runs from 13-19th June with events across London and beyond – look out for what’s happening near you.