Arts for health and wellbeing: an evaluation framework

Arts for health and wellbeing: an evaluation framework

By Tim Joss
Professor Norma Daykin


Explore appropriate ways of documenting the impacts of arts for health and wellbeing in this framework by Norma Daykin and Tim Joss (Aesop). The framework was commissioned by Public Health England.

Executive summary

The arts - including music, dance, theatre, visual arts and writing - are increasingly recognised as having the potential to support health and wellbeing. However, in order for arts to be included in commissioning of health and social services, there needs to be robust evidence of their effectiveness, impacts and costs. This document provides guidance on appropriate ways of documenting the impacts of arts for health and wellbeing, whether through small-scale project evaluations or large-scale research studies. It suggests a standard framework for reporting of project activities that will strengthen understanding of what works in specific contexts and enable realistic assessment and appropriate comparisons to be made between programmes.

The document is modelled on standard public health evaluation frameworks and is in three parts. Part one provides background discussion to help make sense of the framework. There is a discussion of evaluation principles and practice, encompassing project planning, the role of advocacy and the importance of consultation and stakeholder involvement.

In part two the different types of evaluation are outlined, with suggested tools for arts for health and wellbeing evaluation, including outcomes measurement. There is also an introduction to key concepts such as theories of change, and approaches such as logic modelling that can be used to support evaluation.

Part three of the document presents the reporting tool in two sections. Section one captures the key components of project delivery, including the nature of the intervention, the populations engaged, the settings where the project takes place, the resources needed to support it, procedures for quality assurance, and the outcomes that the project is designed to achieve. Section two captures evaluation details and is intended to encourage clear identification of important aspects such as rationale, evalution questions, evaluation design, sampling, data collection and analysis, process evaluation, ethics and consent, reporting and dissemination, evaluation management and the resources needed to undertake evaluation.

The document is intended for health commissioners, third sector organisations, trainers, funders, practitioners, managers, arts organisations, researchers and others with an interest in the development and evaluation of arts for health and wellbeing programmes. Some arts for health and wellbeing activities, such as clinical evaluation of one-to-one arts therapies, or population-level assessment of the social effects of the arts are outside the scope of this document. The document does not include evaluation theory or detailed guidance about how to use the methodologies suggested. Rather, it seeks to provide a framework whereby the use of arts interventions to support health and wellbeing is built on increasingly robust evaluation.

Download the framework (PDF) to read more

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Commissioning Health
Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2016