A hole in the heart: Confronting the drive for evidence-based impact research in arts and health

Anni Raw, Sue Lewis, Andrew J. Russell, Jane Macnaughton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The field of arts and health, and associated academic discussion, is beset by a number of interlinked challenges which make it vulnerable to academic dismissal or, at best, poor visibility. One of these is a preoccupation with developing an evidence base of impact. This is compounded by resistance to definitions, disagreement over what constitutes appropriate evidence of success and inadequate consideration of the mechanisms of arts and health practice, as opposed to outcomes. We argue that increased attention should be paid to the description, analysis and theorising of the practice itself as the basis upon which the findings of impact studies can be understood and accepted. A literature review identifies some important emerging themes in community arts and health practice and some lacunae in need of further investigation. We conclude that an interdisciplinary theoretical framework for the practice could make a valuable contribution to the academic status of the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages11
JournalArts and Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice
Issue number2
Early online date20 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • arts and health
  • participatory arts
  • practice
  • interdisciplinarity
  • theoretical frameworks


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