Defining arts engagement for population-based health research: Art forms, activities and level of engagement
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Background: The arts and health evidence base needs to be grounded by common terminology and concepts from which original research and comparative studies can be developed. The aim of this study was to elucidate terminology central to understanding the arts and health causal pathway by defining arts engagement via art forms, activities and level (magnitude) of engagement. Method: The study design was cross-sectional. International experts (n = 280) completed an online survey about the concept of arts engagement (response fraction 44%) to generate a list of art forms and activities. Responses were analysed using NVivo. Participating experts then completed a second survey to rate activities by level of engagement (response fraction 57%). Ratings were analysed via descriptive statistics and factor analysis. Results: Arts engagement can be defined by five art forms – (1) performing arts; (2) visual arts, design and craft; (3) community/cultural festivals, fairs and events; (4) literature; and (5) online, digital and electronic arts – and measured via 91 activities. ‘Active’ arts activities had higher levels of engagement than ‘passive’ activities. Conclusion: Study findings provide guidance about which art forms and activities should be included in population surveys and provide a measurement of exposure for use in studies investigating the relationship between arts engagement and health
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