Taking part in arts activities can prevent ill health and save the NHS money, an increasing proportion of GPs believe.

A second survey conducted in 2019 by Savanta ComRes on behalf of AESOP has shown a massive culture change within the NHS from 2018. Over a thousand GPs took part throughout the UK. The results have seen a significant shift in opinions in just one year on how arts-based interventions can be harnessed to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals. In the survey, the arts are broadly defined as dance, drama, music, visual arts, films, singing, reading, painting, drawing, crafts and making. 

Headline results show that:

  • Across the UK, 74% of GPs said public engagement with the arts can make a significant contribution to the prevention agenda. 
  • 54% of GPs agree that arts-based interventions can be a cost-effective way to deliver primary care to the public to improve health outcomes 
  • 72% agree that public engagement with the arts can make a significant contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of the NHS workforce, up 10 percentage points from 2018 (62%).

“This reveals a massive culture change in a very short time.” It shows that my fellow GPs have quickly recognised the power of the arts to benefit patients, reduce calls on the NHS and stop the prescribing of ever more drugs.”

Dr. Michael Dixon, NHS England Clinical Champion for Social Prescribing, Chair of the College of Medicine and former President of NHS Clinical Commissioner

“The results are extremely encouraging, showing that there has been a significant increase in the number of GPs that believe the arts make an important and valued contribution to the public’s health and wellbeing.”

Tim Joss, Aesop’s Chief Executive and Founder

Most arts in health projects are time-limited and serve small groups. Not one has gone to scale in the health system. Aesop’s Dance to Health programme for older people aims to be the first. Evidence has shown reductions to falls by up to 58% in Dance to Health participants. A significant expansion of the programme across England and Wales is planned from 2020 onwards. If you would like a full version of the survey, please contact info@ae-sop.org.