Journal of Public Health

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 519–524 | Cite as

‘It helps me make sense of the world’: the role of an art intervention for promoting health and wellbeing in primary care—perspectives of patients, health professionals and artists

  • D. M. CroneEmail author
  • E. E. O’Connell
  • P. J Tyson
  • F. Clark-Stone
  • S. Opher
  • D. V. B. James
Original Article



Art interventions are increasingly used in public health for the enhancement of patients’ health and wellbeing. The present study investigated perceived outcomes and role of an art intervention from the collective perspectives of participants (patients who took part), deliverers (artists) and referrers (general practitioners and practice nurses).


A qualitative methodology, using interviews and focus groups, allowed investigation of participants (n = 18) perceived outcomes and role of the intervention. Participants included patients (n = 10), artists (n = 5), and referring health professionals (n = 3).


Themes that emerged from the analysis included perceived benefits, role and value of the intervention, and setting and referral process. Central to these themes were psychological and mental health benefits, an appreciated holistic treatment option and the merits of the intervention being situated in the surgery setting.


The study showed that art interventions within primary care are valuable in the promotion of public health, and in particular, patients’ mental health. Interactions between other participants and the artist were central to achieving patients’ perceived health improvement. Locating the intervention in primary care facilitated patient participation and provided health professionals with a holistic treatment alternative. There is also some evidence that participation in the intervention encourages less dependence on the health professional.


Art intervention Primary care Qualitative Psychological benefits Holistic well-being 



The authors would like to thank those patients who took part in the study, referring health professionals, artists, and Gloucestershire Art Lift Steering Group members.

Conflict of interest

This work was supported by Gloucestershire NHS PCT through its charitable funds. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. M. Crone
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. E. O’Connell
    • 2
  • P. J Tyson
    • 3
  • F. Clark-Stone
    • 4
  • S. Opher
    • 5
  • D. V. B. James
    • 6
  1. 1.Faculty of Applied SciencesUniversity of Gloucestershire, Oxstalls CampusGloucesterUK
  2. 2.HPA Primary Care Unit, Microbiology LaboratoryGloucestershire Royal HospitalGloucesterUK
  3. 3.School of Sport, Health and Applied Social SciencesUniversity of Wales, Newport, Caerleon CampusCaerleonUK
  4. 4.NHS Gloucestershire, Public Health DirectorateGloucesterUK
  5. 5.May Lane Surgery, DursleyGloucestershireUK
  6. 6.Faculty of Applied SciencesUniversity of Gloucestershire, Oxstalls CampusGloucesterUK

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