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Perspect Public Health. 2013 Jan;133(1):44-52. doi: 10.1177/1757913912466946.

The effects of participating in creative activities on the health and well-being of children and young people: a rapid review of the literature.

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Senior Lecturer, Department of Allied Health, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1 PT, UK.



Health-promoting strategies need to be culturally appropriate to encourage healthy behaviours and lifestyle choices in children and young people. This rapid review explores the effects of participating in creative activities on the health and well-being of children aged between 11 and 18 years.


Building on an earlier systematic review undertaken by Daykin and colleagues(1) a rapid review of the literature published between 2004 and 2011 was undertaken. The search was conducted systematically and included research on music, dance, singing, drama and visual arts, taking place in community settings or as extracurricular activities in mainstream schools. Therapies such as art, drama and music were excluded from the review.


Following rigorous application of inclusion and exclusion criteria, 20 papers were included in the review: six quantitative, eight qualitative and six mixed-method approaches. The interventions used in the studies were diverse and the research was heterogeneous, therefore overall synthesis of the results was inappropriate. The review is therefore organised into the following headings: sexual health, obesity, mental health and emotional well-being. Despite the methodological weakness and limitations of the majority of the studies there were some consistencies in their findings. It was found that participating in creative activities can have a positive effect on behavioural changes, self-confidence, self-esteem, levels of knowledge and physical activity.


Although the research evidence is generally weak there is some evidence that using creative activities as part of a health-promoting strategy may be a useful method of increasing knowledge and positive behaviours in children and young people.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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