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Making arts and culture part of medical treatment can improve long-term health, researchers say

Making arts and culture part of medical treatment can improve long-term health, researchers say
Posted at 2:46 PM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 14:46:18-05

Making arts and culture a part of a person's medical treatment could help their long-term health, according to researchers at the University of the Arts in Helsinki, Finland.

Researchers at the University say arts and culture in the country are a constitutional right, and that the arts contribute to the health and well-being and society beyond just treating disease and illness.

Kai Lehikoinen, a member of the research team, says incorporating arts and culture in treatment allows medical professionals to use more of their own creativity and helps create a more open way of discussing things with a patient.

"The staff members in hospitals could actually take advantage of their already existing cultural competencies or artistic competencies and bring that into work every day," Lehikoinen said.

Lehikoinen says his team developed an outline of more than a dozen recommendations for hospitals to include arts and culture. Some of those recommendations include developing a cultural well-being plan, making arts an culture a strategic core value, hiring a cultural welfare coordinator and keeping records of the cultural needs and wishes of patients.

"Participation in the arts can enhance the functional capacity of people," Lehikoinen said. "It can prevent loneliness and social exclusion, and has positive impacts on mental health."

To describe how the arts can help people of all backgrounds Lehikoinen uses an example of elderly patients who take part in dance therapy. He says it gets them up and moving as much as their body will allow, stimulates their thinking and imagination and gives them a sense of social engagement.