Please note that What Works Wellbeing will close operations on 30 April 2024.  Read more
July 2023

Creativity and wellbeing

A rapid scoping review of the evidence on creativity and wellbeing, conducted on behalf of the University of the Arts London

Creativity and wellbeing
In partnership with
  • University of the Arts London
  • A scoping review, on behalf of University of the Arts London, to better understand the pathways that link creativity to personal wellbeing.

    The project will help enable evidence-informed decision making for positive social change. 

    What did we do?

    Together with University of the Arts: London and Brunel University, we conducted a rapid scoping review from September 2023 to January 2024 to answer the following questions: 

    1. What are the effects of creativity and creative participation on personal wellbeing?
    2. What are the relationships between creativity, creative participation and personal wellbeing?
    3. What are the contexts and mechanisms that lead to the effects of and relationships between creativity and creative participation on personal wellbeing?

    Background

    The project builds on the Centre’s extensive work summarising the existing research on the wellbeing benefits of creative activities, such as participatory arts, and volunteering-based programmes. 

    While we have a good sense of the overall state of the evidence and its quality in relation to creative arts, it is not in a form to be easily used by practitioners and policymakers.

    Findings from this review highlight the value of creativity across different contexts, and its role as a pathway to improved wellbeing outcomes.

    What do we mean by ‘creativity’?
    For this review we are using Arts Council England’s definition: ‘Creativity’ describes the process through which people apply their knowledge, skill and intuition to imagine, conceive, express or make something that wasn’t there before.

    What do we mean by personal wellbeing?
    We’re interested individual-level wellbeing outcomes that relate to subjective wellbeing and psychological wellbeing domains. These include: life satisfaction, happiness, sense of purpose, reduction in anxiety/stress and other measures of feelings, mood or emotions and esteem, confidence, belonging and loneliness.

    What have we found?

    We have used evidence from the scoping review to  highlight effective approaches and interventions and have developed an evidence-based model to illustrate the pathways that link creativity and wellbeing.

    Policy-makers, research funders, and practitioners can use these resources to fund, design and deliver impactful creativity research and interventions. 

    Explore the project outputs below.

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    In this project

    Blog - February 2024
    How and why does creativity support wellbeing? New learnings
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    Model - February 2024
    Creative pathways
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    Briefing - February 2024
    Creative pathways to personal wellbeing
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    Full report - February 2024
    Creativity and pathways to wellbeing: a rapid scoping review
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    Call for evidence - September 2023
    Take part
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    Speech - September 2023
    The world needs creativity…and this is why UAL is fighting for it
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