Museum visitors one fifth more likely to report good health - Museums Association

Museum visitors one fifth more likely to report good health

Research shows link between culture and wellbeing
A study by the Scottish government has for the first time established a clear and consistent link between culture, good health and high life satisfaction.

Based on data from the Scottish Household Survey 2011, the Healthy Attendance? report found that people who participate in culture or attend cultural places and events were more likely to report good health and life satisfaction.

The research showed that this remained true even after other factors such as age, economic status, income, area deprivation, education, smoking, disability or long-standing illness were taken into account.

The findings found that people who visited a museum were 20% more likely to report good health and 37% more likely to report high life satisfaction than those who did not.

The figure was even higher for people who visited a historical or archaeological place, who were over 50% more likely to report high life satisfaction.

The figures showed that people who attended a cultural place or event were 60% more likely to report good health, while those who participated in a cultural or creative activity were 38% more likely to report good health.

The report builds on evidence from the longitudinal study Growing Up in Scotland, which has shown that exposure to cultural activities has an impact on children’s cognitive development.

It also backs up research in other countries showing a causal relationship between engagement in culture and health.

Mark O'Neill, director of policy & research at Glasgow Life, said: “This is a really ground-breaking piece of work for Scotland – and for the UK.

“It demonstrates, for the first time, a clear association between cultural attendance and improved health and wellbeing.

"It strengthens the case for cultural participation being included in any assessment of life satisfaction – and in any holistic public health strategy.”

The research lends support to initiatives such as the Happy Museum Project and the Museums Association’s (MA) recently-launched Museums Change Lives campaign.

The MA’s head of policy, Maurice Davies, said: “This report confirms the perceptions we have that museums are good for people. However, we mustn't be complacent.

“It's essential to understand how we can change what we do to have an increased impact on people's lives. Museums Change Lives has many suggestions about that.”

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