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LEARN: Review of 'Oxford Textbook of Creative Arts, Health, and Wellbeing'

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Review written by Robyn Dowlen (Blog Editor)

Clift, S., & Camic, P. M. (Eds.). (2016). Oxford textbook of creative arts, health, and wellbeing: International perspectives on practice, policy and research. Oxford Textbooks in Public Health.


This book explores the importance of the arts for health, wellbeing and human flourishing.

The first section of the book sets the scene for the reader, providing clear definitions of the arts and health, as well as detailing the current challenges within this research domain. In setting the scene, the authors also detail the history of the use of the arts for health and wellbeing, as well as the impacts of the arts across the lifespan, from childhood through to older age. The opening of the book therefore orients the reader to the topic area in a way that is both informative and easy to digest.

Following the opening section, the chapters mainly utilise case studies written by a large number of contributors, which means that the reader is able to be exposed to a vast array of arts-based health research from across the lifespan, both in the UK and internationally. This means that the book is very useful as an introduction to the use of the arts for health and wellbeing and is accessible to any researcher or student regardless of research discipline.

This book is not necessarily a book to be read cover to cover, but the way in which it is structured means that the reader can identify a specific arts activity (e.g. music, dance or museums) or population of interest (e.g. dementia, children or prison populations) that they wish to learn more about.

What are the key topics covered?

Ethics; evaluation; arts-based research methods; international perspectives; case studies; qualitative research; participatory arts; arts in healthcare; public health; life course approach; multidisciplinary perspectives; intergenerational projects

Which art forms are discussed?

Participatory music; visual art; galleries and museums; art therapy; music therapy; theatre; singing; dance; film; comedy; artists in residence; poetry; photography; story-telling; drama; community arts

What disciplines are involved?

This textbook draws on a number of disciplines in order to present a multidisciplinary perspective on creative arts, health and wellbeing. These include: psychology; health education; epidemiology/public health; cultural policy; qualitative methodologies; quantitative methodologies; mixed-methods research; arts-based methodologies; social sciences; nursing; psychiatry; medical humanities

Who is it aimed at?

This book is aimed at a wide number of people, but its focus is predominantly research. It is therefore a useful tool for anyone planning an arts-based research project, as it will provide many pointers on research methods, ethics and project implementation.

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