Artists have long been aware of the benefits of their work in healthcare settings and we know from evaluation reports that the arts can have a positive impact on health. What we have lacked thus far is systematic evidence of some of the clinical and other outcomes of the arts that is sufficiently robust to carry weight with those responsible for delivering health care. Through her research at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital, Dr Rosalia Staricoff has seen at first hand the benefits of the arts for staff, patients and carers. By bringing together a huge body of literature for this review, Dr Staricoff has made a significant contribution to strengthening the evidence base and to improving our understanding of the impact of the arts on health. Her review shows us that, in clinical settings, encouraging patients to engage with the arts can help them to manage pain and the side effects of some treatments, to alleviate stress and anxiety and to come to terms with what can be major and distressing episodes in their lives. Incorporating the arts into the design of health care facilities has positive benefits for staff, for patients and for their carers. Integrating the arts into the training and professional development of health professionals helps them better communicate with and understand their patients, from all social and ethnic groups.
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