Performing arts as a health resource? An umbrella review of the health impacts of music and dance participation

PLoS One. 2021 Jun 10;16(6):e0252956. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252956. eCollection 2021.


An increasing body of evidence notes the health benefits of arts engagement and participation. However, specific health effects and optimal modes and ‘doses’ of arts participation remain unclear, limiting evidence-based recommendations and prescriptions. The performing arts are the most popular form of arts participation, presenting substantial scope for established interest to be leveraged into positive health outcomes. Results of a three-component umbrella review (PROSPERO ID #: CRD42020191991) of relevant systematic reviews (33), epidemiologic studies (9) and descriptive studies (87) demonstrate that performing arts participation is broadly health promoting activity. Beneficial effects of performing arts participation were reported in healthy (non-clinical) children, adolescents, adults, and older adults across 17 health domains (9 supported by moderate-high quality evidence (GRADE criteria)). Positive health effects were associated with as little as 30 (acute effects) to 60 minutes (sustained weekly participation) of performing arts participation, with drumming and both expressive (ballroom, social) and exercise-based (aerobic dance, Zumba) modes of dance linked to the broadest health benefits. Links between specific health effects and performing arts modes/doses remain unclear and specific conclusions are limited by a still young and disparate evidence base. Further research is necessary, with this umbrella review providing a critical knowledge foundation.

PMID:34111212 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0252956