Last updated: 13 Oct, 2020

It has long been recognised that the arts, cultural sector and creative industries (the arts) can have a positive impact on people’s mental, physical and social health. It is also recognised that not all people have equal opportunities to engage in the arts due to factors including a lack of knowledge, support, familiarity, skills, cost, access, distance and apprehension to take part.

Key findings:

  • People need at least 2 hours per week of arts engagement for good mental wellbeing.

  • The arts can have positive impacts on healthy eating, physical activity, mental wellbeing and social health, as well as on preventing tobacco use and harm from alcohol.

  • Cross-sector partnerships play an integral role in the effective use of the arts and creative industries for health promotion.

  • Local councils can promote better health through the arts by expanding the diversity of people engaging in arts activities.


VicHealth commissioned a rapid review of recent research to answer three key questions, with the aim of assisting stakeholders in their strategic planning:

1. What approaches have been effective in improving arts participation, particularly for priority groups?

2. What programs or activities using the arts have been effective in increasing awareness, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in VicHealth’s five priority areas?

3. Which of the programs, activities and approaches identified in the above questions could be implemented by local councils?

Reviewers used a mixed methods approach and assessed the evidence from 56 studies and reviews published since 2015.


Download: The arts and creative industries in health promotion – evidence brief (Summary, PDF, 2 MB)

Download: The arts and creative industries in health promotion – evidence review (Full report, PDF, 4 MB)


This Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute for The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.


The report was prepared by:

Dr Christina Davies

Health Humanities – Division of Health Professions Education School of Allied Health, The University of Western Australia


Dr Melanie Pescud

Menzies Centre for Health Policy, School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), The Australian National University and The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre, Sax Institute