There is a substantial body of evidence on the health benefits of individual and group engagement in cultural activities in particular health settings like hospitals (Ruiz, 2004). More recently, evidence has grown on the impact of general cultural engagement on health and life satisfaction at a population level (O’Neill, 2010). Much of this research stems from Scandinavian epidemiological studies based on secondary analysis of population surveys (eg Cuypers et al, 2011).
In Scotland, questions on participation in culture and sport have been included in the Scottish Household Survey since 2007. Questions on life satisfaction and self-assessed health were added in 2009. This means that, for the first time at a population level, data is available to statistically explore the relationship between taking part in cultural and sporting activities, attending cultural places and key quality of life measures in Scotland. This report presents the findings of the analysis of this relationship.
There is consistent evidence that people who participate in culture and sport or attend cultural places or events are more likely to report that their health is good and they are satisfied with their life than those who do not participate. This finding remains true even when other factors such as age, economic status; income; area deprivation, education qualification, disability/or long standing illness and smoking are accounted for.