Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

What Works for Wellbeing in Culture and Sport? Report of a DELPHI Process to Support Coproduction and Establish Principles and Parameters of an Evidence Review

Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

What Works for Wellbeing in Culture and Sport? Report of a DELPHI Process to Support Coproduction and Establish Principles and Parameters of an Evidence Review

Article excerpt


There is a growing recognition of the ways in which culture and sport can contribute to wellbeing. Developments in policy including local commissioning of needs-based health and social care have created new opportunities for culture and sport activities to be integrated into service delivery.[1] However, a strong evidence base is needed to support innovations of this kind. The UK What Works Wellbeing Centre has commissioned a 3-year programme of research synthesis and secondary data analysis across three areas: work and learning, community wellbeing, and culture and sport. The evidence reviews are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council from June 2015 to May 2018. This article reports the initial consultation process for the Culture, Sport and Wellbeing (CSW) review. The review is a collaboration between four UK universities and seeks to determine wellbeing impacts in culture and sport practices in diverse communities and contexts, and to establish how evidence can be used effectively to inform policy and practice decisions. This article briefly introduces the policy context relating to culture and sport as well as concepts of wellbeing relevant to the sectors. We then present an overview of the methods and findings from a two-stage DELPHI process with key stakeholders that sought to explore and agree principles and parameters of the CSW evidence review programme.

The importance of measuring and understanding subjective wellbeing (SWB) is becoming established in policy and decision-making in the United Kingdom.[2]-[4] Recent developments have stimulated policy-related recognition of the importance of measuring and understanding SWB.[5] Since 2011, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has assessed 'personal well-being' or 'subjective wellbeing' using four dimensions: satisfaction with life, worthwhileness, happiness and anxiety (the ONS4). Recognition of the significance of leisure practices for individual and collective wellbeing was formalised through the inclusion of measures of cultural and sporting engagement in SWB data collection by the ONS from 2013.

Scholars have long-recognised the connections between culture and wellbeing, though in varied terminology. The 1930s historians and economists saw spheres of arts and leisure/amusement as antidotes to Marxist notions of alienated labour or routes towards a well-lived life.[6],[7] In the 1970s, leisure providers saw cultural, sports and community interventions as a means of enhancing quality of life.[8],[9]

Worldwide evidence on the drivers, impact and value of engagement in culture and sport is available,[10] with positive effects on wellbeing relationships reported for taking part in sports, arts, heritage, museums, libraries, and archive activities.[11] Significant associations between wellbeing and engagement in cultural and sport practices have been calculated and a financial value placed on participation in the arts (£1,084/yr), libraries (£1,359/yr) and sports (£1,127/yr).12 Physical activity is reported to be associated with increased life satisfaction, one of the ONS4 dimensions of wellbeing, for both men and women.[13]

Within the culture sector, a growing body of research has examined the impacts of arts programmes on health and wellbeing in both clinical and community contexts.[14],[15] The relevance of arts to public health concerns has been recognised.[15],[16] As well as examining the impact of arts on individuals, research has linked cultural interventions with personal and collective wellbeing benefits for particular social groups, including improvements in public health,[17] reduced inequalities,[18] cultural value and social capital.[19]

While the evidence in support of positive wellbeing impacts of culture and sport is growing, there is still a lack of consensus in policy, academic and practice circles about how to conceptualise wellbeing and best methods for measuring wellbeing outcomes. …

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