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Arts Health. 2014 Feb;6(1):24-58. Epub 2013 May 17.

Mixed methods evaluation of well-being benefits derived from a heritage-in-health intervention with hospital patients.

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University College London, UCL Museums & Public Engagement, Darwin Building, Gower Street, London, UK.
Department of Women's Cancer, UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women's Health, London, UK.



This study sought to determine the effects of a heritage-in-health intervention on well-being. Benefits of arts-in-health interventions are relatively well-documented yet little robust research has been conducted using heritage-in-health interventions, such as those involving museum objects.


Hospital patients (n = 57) participated in semi-structured, 30-40 minute facilitated interview sessions, discussing and handling museum objects comprising selections of six artefacts and specimens loaned from archaeology, art, geology and natural history collections. Well-being measures (Positive Affect Negative Affect Scale, Visual Analogue Scales) evaluated the sessions while inductive and deductive thematic analysis investigated psycho-educational features accounting for changes.


Comparison of pre- and post-session quantitative measures showed significant increases in well-being and happiness. Qualitative investigation revealed thinking and meaning-making opportunities for participants engaged with objects.


Heritage-in-health sessions enhanced positive mood and social interaction, endorsing the need for provision of well-being-related museum and gallery activities for socially excluded or vulnerable healthcare audiences.


happiness; material objects; mixed methods; museum object handling; wellbeing

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