INgredients iN ArTs in hEalth (INNATE) Framework

A framework exploring the active ingredients of arts in health activities

The aim of this project was to develop a framework detailing what it is about arts engagement that may lead to effects on health and wellbeing: their active ingredients.

In consultation with 64 participants with experience working on arts in health projects, we went through a three-phase process:

  • Completing a scoping review to inform the development of an initial framework
  • Consulting participants on the initial framework
  • Analysis and construction of the final INNATE framework

Key findings

We identified 139 potential active ingredients within the overarching categories of  project, people, and contexts:

  • Project components relate directly to the content of the arts activity itself, intrinsic to what the activity is.
  • The people category denotes how people interact through engagement with the activity and who is involved in this interaction, including activity facilitation.
  • Contexts relates to the activity setting, such as place(s), things, and surroundings.

Ingredients may interconnect or feed into one another to prompt mechanisms, and may not be experienced as distinct by participants.

Figure 1. The INNATE Framework: active ingredient categories and subcategories, showing interconnections and feedback loops. From

Our mapping exercise is the most extensive of its kind to date. We believe the INNATE framework can support with the design and implementation of interventions to meet the needs of a particular population, as well as evaluation and manualising/scaling of projects.

Summaries and resources

INNATE framework: full published paper. 

There is also a full resource and Worksheets (1 and 2) to help you use and apply the Framework to your work.



UK Research and Innovation, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust

Programme area

Complexity science



Author & contact

Dr Katey Warran –