Healing power of the arts
Scientific research has shown that the arts can sometimes help individuals dealing with chronic diseases and disorders more than prescribed medicine.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Aspen Institute are taking that research a step further, saying the arts could fill gaps in some areas of medicine, according to their neuroarts blueprint report released in December.
The initiative, which was launched in 2019 and has a 25-member advisory council of scientists, artists, clinicians and technology pioneers, has a long-term vision for the field of neuroarts so insurers can cover the arts as treatment.
The goal is “where the arts are woven into the mainstream of medicine and preventive care and clinicians can eventually write prescriptions for the arts, reimbursed by insurers,” said Megan Howard, spokesperson for Johns Hopkins’ International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab) Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics. “It will take likely more than five years to realize this vision, but the blueprint initiative will live on as long as necessary to achieve this.”
The researchers say neuroarts could also benefit the economy and “could be a game-changer for advancing the field,” according to the report. To test this hypothesis, the researchers asked KPMG to prepare an independent economic analysis of one of their strategies: music engagement to ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. KPMG found that music as a treatment cost $816 per year compared with pharmaceutical costs of $3,600, according to the analysis.
The neuroarts initiative’s report is the culmination of a two-year analysis that found arts and aesthetic experiences impact human behavior differently than any other medical intervention, but they need cohesive structure to develop the field further. Researchers encouraged more community-based engagement and leadership.
Ruth Katz, executive director of Aspen Institute’s Health, Medicine and Society program, said in the virtual launch event that arts practitioners need to be empowered “as equal partners with scientists and ensure their voices are heard. And we need to foster more collaborations in healthcare, community and workplace settings where the arts can be fully integrated into health-related activities.”■