September 23, 2014

Arts in health care seen yielding benefits

Incorporating the arts into health-care settings has multiple benefits for patients and may reduce health-care expenses, a new study says.

Up to half of health-care institutions in the U.S. incorporate arts programming into their care, says the report from Society for the Arts in Healthcare, Americans for the Arts, The Joint Commission and the University of Florida Center for the Arts in Healthcare.

Benefits from arts programming include shorter hospital stays, less need for medication, and a boost for job satisfaction and employee retention.

The most common types of programming are permanent art displays, performances in public spaces and arts activities conducted at patients' bedsides.

Six in 10 arts programs in health-care institutions are funded out of the organizations' operating budgets, but few programs are measuring any cost-savings that arts programming produce, the study says.

"Anecdotal evidence shows such programs can have an immense impact on some of the most costly aspects of our health system, from a significant reduction in health-services costs - such as those related to hospital stays - to staff retention," Randy Cohen, vice president of local arts advancement for Americans for the Arts.

"Thus, it's critical that more resources be dedicated to measuring economic outcomes," he says.

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