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Waiting list-controlled evaluation of a participatory arts course for people experiencing mental health problems
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 13:02 authored by Kerrie L. Margrove, Kirsten Heydinrych, Jenny Secker
AIMS: The potential for participation in creative activity to promote recovery from mental ill health is highlighted in mental health policy and guidance, alongside a perceived dearth of robust evidence of effectiveness. Open Arts has run participatory arts courses in South Essex since 2008 and a course waiting list has developed with increasing demand for places. Given the waiting list and the need to improve the evidence base for the utility of participatory arts groups in mental health, the aim of this project was to conduct a naturalistic waiting list-controlled evaluation of the 12-week courses routinely provided and to explore participants' experiences of their course. It was expected that people on the waiting list who were allocated places on a course would gain improvements in well-being and social inclusion, whereas those not allocated places would show no changes over the same time period. METHODS: Measures included the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) and the Social Inclusion Scale (SIS). People on the Open Arts waiting list who had been allocated a place on the courses formed an intervention group; those remaining on the waiting list were asked to complete the same measures over the same time period (forming a control group). Participants in the intervention group were asked to rate the service and were offered the opportunity to join a focus group. RESULTS: Thirty-two people in the control group and 26 people in the intervention group could be included in the final analyses. There were no significant differences between the two groups on either measure at baseline. Intervention group total mean scores were significantly higher after the Open Arts course than at baseline on both the WEMWBS and SIS, but no significant differences across time were found for the control group. Of the intervention group 96% reported enjoying the course and most of those providing feedback reported gains in confidence (81%) and motivation (88%). Nineteen participants in the control group completed an Open Arts course later in the year and similar improvements between baseline and follow-up scores on the WEMWBS and SIS were then found in this group. CONCLUSIONS: This service evaluation of Open Arts has provided some preliminary evidence that participatory arts groups are likely to have benefits for mental health service users in terms of improved well-being and social inclusion. The evaluation justifies a future randomised controlled trial and economic appraisal of participatory arts projects.
Publication titlePerspectives in Public Health