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A hole in the heart : confronting the drive for evidence-based impact research in arts in health.

Raw, A. and Lewis, S. and Russell, A. and Macnaughton, J. (2012) 'A hole in the heart : confronting the drive for evidence-based impact research in arts in health.', Arts & health., 4 (2). pp. 97-108.


The field of arts and health, and associated academic discussion, is beset by a number of interlinked challenges which make it vulnerable to academic dismissal or, at best, poor visibility. One of these is a preoccupation with developing an evidence base of impact. This is compounded by resistance to definitions, disagreement over what constitutes appropriate evidence of success, and inadequate consideration of the mechanisms of arts and health practice, as opposed to outcomes. We argue that increased attention should be paid to the description, analysis and theorising of the practice itself as the basis upon which the findings of impact studies can be understood and accepted. A literature review identifies some important emerging themes in community arts and health practice, and some lacunae in need of further investigation. We conclude that an interdisciplinary theoretical framework for the practice could make a valuable contribution to the academic status of the field.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Arts and health, Participatory arts, Practice, Interdisciplinarity, Theoretical frameworks.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Arts & Health on 20/10/2011, available online at:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:20 October 2012
Date of first online publication:20 October 2011
Date first made open access:No date available

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