1 Executive Summary
1.1 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).
1.2 A positive association between participation in sport and self-assessed health and life satisfaction has also been found in previous research based on the Taking Part survey in England (CASE, 2010a).
1.3 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.
1.4 The main technique used in this study is regression analysis. In particular, logistic regression was used which helps identify factors that contribute to a result and also to give an indication of the relative strength of these factors. The study examined the relationship between the dependent variables of health and satisfaction with life and the independent variables of participation in culture and sport in isolation, but also accounted for other factors that might explain varying levels of life satisfaction and self-assessed health.
1.5 The key findings of the analysis are:
- 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.
- In other words, after controlling for relevant factors, participation in culture and sport are independently and significantly associated with good health and high life satisfaction.
- Overall, those who attended a cultural place or event were almost 60% more likely to report good health compared to those who did not attend.
- The association between cultural attendance and good health was also found for individual cultural places. For example, those who visited a library were almost 20% more likely to report good health than those who had not visited a library in the previous 12 months. Those who visited a museum were also 20% more likely to report good health than those who did not. Those who visited the theatre were almost 25% more likely to report good health than those who did not in the previous 12 months.
- Overall, those who participated in a creative or cultural activity were 38% more likely to report good health compared to those who did not participate in any cultural activity in the previous 12 months.
- For example, those who participated in dance were 62% more likely to report good health than those who did not participate in dance. Those who read for pleasure in the previous 12 months were 33% more likely to report good health than those who did not read for pleasure.
- Those who participated in sport were nearly twice as likely to report good health than those who did not participate in sport in the previous 4 weeks.
1.6 While evidence of the benefits of participating in culture and sport has been growing in the international research literature, this is the first population level evidence for Scotland on the association between taking part in culture and sport and self-assessed health and life satisfaction.
Email: Dr Niamh O'Connor
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