Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials Christmas 2019: Express Yourself

Cultural activities linked to lower mortality

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 18 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6774

Linked Research

The art of life and death: 14 year follow-up analyses of associations between arts engagement and mortality

  1. Nicola Gill, GP training programme director1,
  2. Vivien Ellis, vocalist2,
  3. Stephen Clift, professor2
  1. 1York GP Training Scheme, Health Education England Yorkshire and the Humber, Hull HU10 6DT, UK
  2. 2Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK
  1. Correspondence to: N Gill njgill{at}

Everyone should have the chance to participate

What gifts would wise men bring a newborn infant this Christmas? The list would certainly include shelter, safety, food, family, health, and education; but what about a gift of creative arts? A linked paper by Fancourt and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6377) examines data from more than 6000 participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) over 14 years, and provides compelling evidence that the arts are a gift we should all value. The authors conclude that “receptive arts engagement could have a protective association with longevity in older adults.”1 Their data show substantial reductions in mortality for participants who engaged in cultural activities at the initial assessment point when adjusted for all identified demographic, socioeconomic, health related, behavioural, and social factors. Cultural activities included going to museums, art galleries, concerts, or the theatre.

Positive changes

Is it magical realism to imagine a resource commonly available in …

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