1. Scientific Contextualization
1.1. Arts and/in/for/within Health.
Attempting a Definition
Although there is no fundamental distinction in the literature between arts and/for/in/within health, we make the following differentiation in this publication. “Arts and Health” refers to artistic and cultural activities in the context of health and well-being. “Arts for Health” is for non-therapeutic interventions that focus on the artistic process, usually led by professional artists, and is seen as a further development of the concept of Community Arts. Art therapies are mostly clinical psychotherapeutic treatments involving artistic activities led by trained therapists. This distinction is necessary because of the special legal status of music therapy in Austria.
1.2. Arts and Health: the evidence base according to WHO
In 2019, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European Office published the 67th edition of its Health Evidence Network Synthesis Report: In “What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing. A scoping review,” the authors Daisy Fancourt and Saoirse Finn examine 900 publications that presented a total of 3,000 studies. To do justice to the subject matter, they chose an inter- and transdisciplinary approach and examined studies from the fields of medicine, neuroscience, psychology, and sociology. They brought together quantitative meta-analyses, qualitative meta-syntheses, and individual studies. The WHO report currently provides us with the most comprehensive overview of the research on the impact of the arts in the context of health and well-being. Good practice examples refer to projects enhancing social cohesion and addressing Dementia.
1.3. Arts and Health evaluations.
Robust study base?
There is no standardized design in the impact research of Arts and Health interventions but rather a plethora of methods and approaches. In addition to scientific strategies applied in medicine, psychology or sociology that investigate artistic processes with regard to their effect on the participants, cultural-historical and art-immanent factors should also be considered. An interdisciplinary approach and an appropriate composition of the team is desirable. In the development of scientific evidence of the effect of clowning on health. the RED NOSES Clown doctors are guided by a Framework of Change as a basis for planning evaluations.