Dance to Health achieves better outcomes than the primary falls prevention programme

Dance to Health achieves better outcomes than the primary falls prevention programme

By Karen Hamilton, AESOP


Aesop shares the results of its falls prevention dance programme, Dance to Health.

Executive summary

Aesop set out to create an exemplar 'aesop' - an arts intervention which responds to a major health challenge and is of consistent quality, evidence-based from a health point of view, effective, cost-effective, sustainable and scalable.

The chosen major health challenge was older people's falls and problems with some current falls prevention exercise programmes. The proposed solution, Dance to Health, smuggles evidence-based exercise programmes into creative, social and engaging dance activity.

The Pilot Programme included bridge-building between the worlds of dance and older people's exercise, training of dance artists, six evidence-based falls prevention programmes with 196 participants, sharing/celebration events and an evaluation programme.

The key results were:

  • A 7-item checklist of required ingredients for an arts programme to be taken up by the health system and made available to every patient who could benefit.
  • The worlds of dance and older people's exercise can be brought together.
  • Dance artists can be trained in the evidence-based falls prevention programmes.
  • Two groups were inspected for fidelity to the evidence-based programmes. Fidelity was confirmed.
  • The final programme had a waiting list and 73% of participants achieved the target of 5 hours' attendance over the six months. The national average for completing standard falls prevention exercise programmes is 31% for primary prevention and 46% for secondary prevention.
  • Increases were achieved in dance interest and ability, group identification, relationships and reduced loneliness, functional health and wellbeing, and mental health and wellbeing. A few elements were statistically significant. These outcomes should continue to be measured as Dance to Health develops.
  • Dance to Health is capable of generating better outcomes and being associated with lower overall costs of managing falls compared to the primary prevention programme or no intervention.
  • Five principles established for involving older people:
    • listening to participants
    • achieving a measurable transfer of power to participants
    • outcomes defined by the participants and co-produced with them
    • the outcomes are describable by the participants
    • participants are involved in assessing the achievement of outcomes
  • Dance to Health has been codified in preparation for scaling
  • Research by Middlesex University Business School identified ten success factors for Dance to Health's financial sustainability.
  • A business model for early-stage roll-out was devised. This consists of an evidence-based 'Improvement Programme' which is funded by the health sector and an ongoing 'Maintenance Programme' which is locally sustainable.
  • Translating the evidence-based falls prevention programmes was an enjoyable challenge for dance artists. Without this it would be difficult to see Dance to Health growing; if delivering Dance to Health is boring, dance artists are likely to be reluctant to contribute.

Image courtesy of Aesop © Helen Murray

Download the evaluation report to read on:
Dance to Health: evaluation of the pilot programme (PDF)

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Dance Evidence Health
Resource type: Research | Published: 2017