So what DOES the research tell us about how making art impacts health?
The research on creativity and health continues to grow and specify what these positive outcomes look like, which we find exciting and hugely gratifying here at Render. We’ve included just a few of our favorite quick facts here, but these represent only a small fraction of the data out there.
Open ended art-making in an art therapy studio has been shown to lead to significantly lower negative emotion, improved positive emotion, and improved feelings of personal ability. There was no difference between groups based on prior experience with art-making, gender, age, or race/ethnicity (Kaimal and Bay, 2017).
In medical settings, visual arts interventions have been shown to lead to improved clinical outcomes, including better vital signs, diminished cortisol related to stress, and less medication needed to induce sleep and reduce pain (Stuckey and Nobel, 2010).
An arts-in-medicine program found that participants experienced statistically significant improvement in quality of life measures, including weight gain, social functioning, ability to complete regular physical tasks, and a trend towards reduced depression compared with control groups (Hollen and Fitzgerald, 2006).
Nobel Prize winning scientists were found to be 7 times more likely than “ordinary scientists” to have creative leisure time hobbies that involved drawing, painting, printmaking, and/or sculpting, indicating that engagement in visual arts supports creative problem solving and integrative thinking more broadly (Root-Bernstein et al, 2008).
If you’re interested in learning more about creativity in health, we always recommend the American Art Therapy Association’s website for a whole range of resources.