EpiArts Lab

Working with University of Florida to explore how the arts are linked to health outcomes in the USA.

Partnership with Center for Arts in Medicine, University of Florida

In this project we are seeking to address the overarching question: does arts engagement have long-term benefits for health? To find this out, we are using US cohort study data and an epidemiological (statistical) approach to measure the impact of the arts at a population level.

Several specific questions guide this research:

  • Are there associations between arts engagement, promotion of wellbeing and prevention of, or recovery from, mental illness?
  • Is arts engagement associated with engagement in health-promoting behaviours or reduced likelihood of emotional-behavioural problems or risky behaviours?
  • Is engaging in the arts associated with a reduced risk of physical ill-health, such as developing non-communicable diseases, dementia, or age-related decline?

We are also comparing findings between and across the UK, US and 13 other countries to analyse different patterns of arts engagement, demographics, social/political structures and health challenges.

Impact and media

We were commissioned by Arts Council England in 2022 to use epidemiological analysis alongside a literature review to investigate the impacts of creativity and culture on the brain. Specifically, we looked at how the arts impacts feelings of wellbeing, connectedness to others, and motivation, across different life stages and socioeconomic groups. The full report can be found here: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/arts-culture-brain

Selected publications

EpiArts Lab Key Insights Infographic

Bone, J. K., Bu, F., Sonke, J. K., & Fancourt, D. (in press; 2022). Longitudinal associations between arts engagement and flourishing in young adults: A fixed effects analysis of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Affective Science. [DOI]

Fancourt, D. Mak, H.W., Noguchi, T. et al. (2022) Psychological benefits of hobby engagement in older age: a longitudinal cross-country analysis of 93,263 older adults in 16 countries. Research Square Preprint [DOI]

Bone, J. K., Bu, F., Fluharty, M. E., Paul, E., Sonke, J. K., & Fancourt, D. (2022). Engagement in leisure activities and depression in older adults in the United States: Longitudinal evidence from the Health and Retirement Study. Social Science & Medicine, 294, 114703. [DOI]

Bone, J. K., Bu, F., Fluharty, M. E., Paul, E., Sonke, J. K., & Fancourt, D. (2022). Arts and Cultural Engagement, Reportedly Antisocial or Criminalized Behaviors, and Potential Mediators in Two Longitudinal Cohorts of Adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 51, 1463–1482. [DOI]

Bone, J. K., Fancourt, D., Fluharty, M. E., Paul, E., Sonke, J. K., & Bu, F. (2022). Associations between participation in community arts groups and aspects of wellbeing in older adults in the United States: A propensity score matching analysis. Aging & Mental Health. [DOI]

Bone, J. K., Bu, F., Fluharty, M. E., Paul, E., Sonke, J. K., & Fancourt, D. (2021). Who engages in the arts in the United States? A comparison of several types of engagement using data from The General Social Survey. BMC Public Health21(1), 1-13. [DOI]


University of Florida, Bloomberg Philanthropies, National Endowment for the Arts (USA), Pabst Steinmetz Foundation

Programme area




Principal Investigator

Dr Daisy Fancourt, UCL
Dr Jill Sonke, University of Florida

UCL Research Team

Dr Jessica Bone
Dr Karen Mak
Dr Feifei Bu
Dr Qian Gao



Key Contact