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Social Prescription

Research & Resources

Definitions of Social Prescription Arts, Culture, and Health

“Social Prescription Pilot” was the name of our initial initiative, which was the first statewide arts-in-prescription program in the US. We are now using the term “Arts on Prescription” to describe efforts related to prescribing cultural engagement, because it more directly describes the practice of referring patients and clients to arts/culture/nature. By contrast, the term “social prescription” is used more globally to include all community-based referrals that a provider might make – including to food banks, support groups, housing assistance, etc.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the term arts and culture refers to the wide range of cultural identities, traditions, and creative expressions that exist in communities. It includes art forms such as music, dance, spoken word, painting, and theater, as well as graphic design, culinary arts, spiritual practices, and celebrations of local places and histories. Arts and cultural activities take place in arts and cultural centers, schools, libraries, homes, places of worship, local businesses, in parks, and on streets.

In 1946 the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (Read more: From Absence to Presence: Arts and Culture Help Us Redefine “Health”)

For further definitions: Defining “Arts Participation” for Public Health Research

Intro to the Intersections of Arts, Culture, and Health

“People who engage in the arts every few months, such as going to the theatre or to a museum, have a 31% lower risk of dying early when compared with those who don’t. Even if you bring arts into your live only once or twice a year, you lower mortality risk by 14%. The arts literally help you live longer.” – Magsamen and Ross

WATCH: What is social prescribing?

WATCH: NEA Chair, Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, in Health and Well-being Matter: a Discussion on the Intersections Between Art and Health (with reference to the 7 Vital Conditions for Well-Being)

Organizations and Initiatives in the US



Arts & Culture’s Effects on Health

WATCH: Why Medicine Needs Art

WATCH: Arts and Public Health – Daisy Fancourt/Serious Science

Health Equity, Social Drivers of Health, and Anti-Racism Resources

International Resources for Arts & Culture Social Prescribing

WATCH: Arts should be available on prescription

Effects of Arts & Culture on Specific Health Concerns

Additional Guides and Toolkits


History of the CultureRx: Social Prescription Pilot (2020-2023)

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