A nationally representative survey of 1,002 GPs, recently commissioned by Aesop, has revealed that two thirds (66%) of GPs agree that public engagement with the arts can make a significant contribution towards preventing ill health among the public. Forty four percent also agree that arts-based interventions can be a cost-effective way to deliver primary care to the public and improve health outcomes. Almost two thirds (62%) agree that art-based interventions can make a significant contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.

The findings support Aesop’s belief that it is time for the arts to become recognised and integrated into healthcare delivery, as a cost effective, evidence-based means of addressing today’s health and social care challenges.

Arts initiatives, such as Aesop’s own innovative Dance to Health falls prevention programme for older people, have the ability to address not only physical and mental health problems but also national social challenges such as loneliness and isolation.

Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of the College of Medicine and former President of NHS Clinical Commissioners, added, “This study is dramatic proof that most GPs recognise the potential of the arts to provide health benefits and healing for their patients. Its implications are clear – we need to make arts interventions much more available. The NHS needs to reach beyond its conventional medical box and now regard arts interventions as mainstream.”

Mags Patten, Executive Director Public Policy and Communication at Arts Council England, said, “It’s great to see this research showing that GPs recognise the idea that arts and cultural experiences can transform our quality of life and affect our well-being. The quality and rigour of the work that Aesop, and many other Arts Council funded organisations, are undertaking is changing perceptions of the role of the arts among health professionals.”

Tim Joss, Chief Executive and Founder of Aesop, said, “A year ago, an All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing report acknowledged that ‘the United Kingdom is still very far from realising more than a small modicum of the potential contribution of the arts to health and wellbeing.’ This survey fuels Aesop’s determination to achieve a breakthrough: working with the health and arts sectors to create national arts programmes which can improve the health of the nation and the NHS workforce.”

The survey was conducted online in between 13th and 24th February 2018 with 1,002 GPs in the UK by ComRes, on behalf of Aesop. Data is regionally representative of GPs in the UK. It is the first of what will be annual survey designed to measure GP opinion on arts involvement in healthcare improvement over time.

ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables can be accessed from their website 

Aesop has appointed as lead evaluator, the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.

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