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Does arts engagement and cultural participation impact depression outcomes in adults: a narrative descriptive systematic review of observational studies


ELSDEN Esme, ROE Brenda



Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore whether engaging with arts and culture affect depression in adults. This is because depression is the most common mental health disorder. Diversification of mental health services, initiatives in arts in health and social prescribing are providing emerging evidence of benefits relating to depression outcomes. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic review design adhering to the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses reporting guidelines. MEDLINE®, Embase and American psychology association PsycINFO were searched and six studies were deemed eligible. Data extraction and quality appraisal enabled a narrative descriptive summary comparing study design, characteristics, populations and key results relating arts and cultural engagement to depression outcomes. Findings: The total number of participants across the studies were 49,197. Three studies reported mean age, 58.78 years (15–99 years). Gender reported by five studies was 52.4% (n = 24,689) female and 47.6% (n = 22,439) male. Five studies found that engaging with arts decreased your odds of having depression. Originality/value: This systematic review found emerging evidence that arts and cultural engagement benefits a wider population by reducing depression incidence. Establishing and understanding the association between arts engagement and decreasing depression incidence in a population is relevant to health-care providers, the general population and policymakers alike. (Edited publisher abstract)

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