Research in Arts and Wellbeing (RAW)

Our research explores how the connection between arts therapies and arts and health can influence the healthcare experience by changing perceptions and practices within healthcare settings.

Our aims

The overall aim of this work is to improve the experience of patients by placing wellbeing and quality of life at the forefront of investigations and providing opportunities for people to exercise their voice towards mutual recovery and social support. We are secondarily interested in the arts in public health.

Research Cluster Team

Our research

The Birth Project

In The Birth Project, led by Professor Susan Hogan, obstetricians, midwives, doulas, birth-partners and new mothers were given the opportunity to explore their experiences of compassion fatigue, stress, birth suffering and post-natal readjustments using the arts. This involved phototherapy, photo-diaries and art elicitation in groups, which then joined together in ‘mutual recovery’ events in which perspectives were shared, primarily through elucidation of the art works produced.

Birth Shock! Is an extension of The Birth Project, that uses film to explore the experience of birth. The aim is to share insights with practitioners and the broader public and embed the films into future training.

Therapeutic Arts and Creativity

Exploring the intersection of drama therapy and education, Dr Clive Holmwood’s work builds on his recent co-edited book, Learning as a Creative and Developmental Process in Higher Education - A Therapeutic Arts Approach and its Wider Application.

Clive Holmwood and Visiting Professor Sue Jennings published in November 2020 The Routledge International Handbook of Play, Therapeutic Play and Play Therapy. The handbook by has brought together international research and case studies on play across the spectrum, including a small research project Clive carried out in a school using neuro dramatic play. Additionally, Clive co-edited the The Routledge International Handbook of Therapeutic Stories and Storytelling in February 2023 with Sue Jennings and Sharon Jackties. This again brought a range of chapters on the use of stories from around the world by leading practitioners and academics including two chapters written by Clive Holmwood, one on the impact of Covid-19 and the other, a small scale research project looking at the use of therapeutic stories with children under the age of five. 

Clive Holmwood’s most recent research project, which is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project, is entitled ‘Creative Support: Building Bonds Through Play for People with Early Onset Dementia and their Caregivers’. It looks at adapting Jennings Neuro Dramatic Play with people with early onset dementia. The project in collaboration with Gemma Collard-Stokes from Derby and Alison Ward from the University of Northampton is over two years from February 2022 to February 2024.

Mobilising Cultural and Natural Assets to Combat Health Inequalities - Art at the Start! 

A recent call from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and AHRC focused on community research to address health disparities. The project is being developed by Josephine Ross (University of Dundee) and co-investigated by Professor Hogan. This project is interested in the arts as part of perinatal care. This project will facilitate cross-partner collaboration with a view to establishing one (or more) community asset hubs, articulating hub structure and membership; scope whole or part of an integrated care system (or devolved equivalent) to understand the range of services, scale of provision, key stakeholders and existing partnerships; explore different collaborative models for integrating co-production into the improvement of health systems.

Abstract art with cut out circles and arches

Arts and Health Research Lab

Discover more about our research through our Arts and Health Research Lab.

Explore our researchExplore our research

Join us

If you would like to find out more about the research in this area, join the research cluster or are applying for a PhD in this area, please contact Professor Susan Hogan for more information.


  • Bird, J., Bird, L. & Collard-Stokes, G. (2023) [accepted] Social Action Art Therapy and the Enhancement of Political Imagination, Journal of Applied Arts and Health 
  • Bird, J. (2022) Social Action Art Therapy in a Time of Crisis, New York: Routledge 
  • Bird, J. (2022) Arts use within healthcare and what is the evidence across healthcare disciplines and professions, in: Hinsliff-Smith,
  • McGarry, & Ali (Eds) Arts Based Health Care Research: a multidisciplinary perspective. London: Springer  
  • Irons J.Y., Garip, G., Cross, A. J., Sheffield, D. & Bird, J. (2020) An integrative systematic review of creative arts interventions for older informal caregivers of people with neurological conditions, PLoS ONE 15(12): e0243461.  
  • Ajlouni, A., Bademci, Ö; Hogan, S., Marino, S. McDougall, J., Rega, I., Skyrme, S., Uddin, N. (in-press for 2023) Digital Arts - Refugee Engagement. Media Practice & Education. 
  • Skyrme, S., Hogan, S., (in-press for 2023). What are the Affordances of Arts-based Workshops with Refugee Women and Girls? Creative Arts in Education and Therapy (CAET). Forthcoming. 
  • Hogan, S. 2022. Photography. Arts & Health Series. Bingley: Emerald. Monograph. 
  • Hogan, S. 2022. Intersectionality and Intersectional Analysis in the Arts Therapies: How Does It Enhance Our Thinking about Social Justice? Creative Arts in Education and Therapy (CAET), pp. 89 - 98. Retrieved from 
  • Hogan, S. 2022. Florence Nightingale - The Colossus  (1820-1910) - Was She a Feminist? International Journal of Women’s Studies. 23 (1). Available at: 
  • Hogan, S. 2021. Arts & Health (chapter thirteen) in Crawford, P. & Kadetz, P. (eds.) Palgrave Encyclopaedia of Health Humanities. London: Palgrave. pp.255-262. 
  • Bungay, H., Chatterjee, H., Hogan, S. 2021. Arts, Creativity & Health (guest editorship of special issue and editorial). Public Health. Journal of the Royal Society of Public Health. Nov. pp.47-48.  
  • Hogan, S. 2021. A Critical and Empowering Perinatal Arts in Health Movement. (guest editorial). International Journal of Birth and Parent Education. Vol. 8. (4) July pp.3-4. 
  • Hogan, S. 2021. Arts-based Participatory Research in the Perinatal Period: Creativity, Representation, Identity, and Methods in Lupton, D. & Leahy, A. (eds.) Creative Approaches to Health Education: New Ways of Thinking, Making, Doing and Learning. Oxon: Routledge. pp.41-56. 
  • Hogan, S. 2020. Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) - What does History say about her Feminism? Journal of Gender Studies (online version now available):  
  • Hogan, S. 2020. Birth Shock! What role might arts engagement have to play in ante-natal and post-natal care? Applied Arts & Health. Vol. 11, 3. pp.239-254. DOI:  
  • Hogan, S. 2020. Arts in Health: Pregnancy, Birth & New Parenthood in Hogan, S. (ed.) Therapeutic Arts in Pregnancy, Birth and New Parenthood. Oxon: Routledge. pp 1-8. 
  • Hogan, S. 2020. Photography (chapter 13) in Crawford, P., Brown, B., Charise, A. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Health Humanities. Oxon: Routledge. pp.255-262. 
  • Hogan, S. 2020. Unnatural Women: Reflections on Discourses on Child Murder and Selective Mortal Neglect in LaChance-Adams,
  • S. Cassidy, T., Hogan, S. (eds.) The Maternal Tug: Ambivalence, Identity, and Agency. Canada, Ontario: Demeter Press. pp. 247-261. 
  • Hogan, S. 2020. Arts Therapies and Gender Issues in Hogan, S. (ed.) Arts Therapies & Gender in International Arts Therapies Research. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge pp. 3-14. 
  • Holmwood, C (2023) Games for Strengthening Attachment Bonds: Playful Activities for Early Years. Banbury UK.  Hinton House Press. 
  • Holmwood, C. (2023) Space, Liminality, Education and Dramatherapy in Sweeney, L (ed) The Space and Arts Psychotherapies. London: Routledge.  
  • Holmwood, C. Jennings S. Jacksties, S. (Eds)  (2022) The Routledge International Handbook of Stories and Therapeutic Storytelling. London: Routledge  
  • Holmwood, C. Collard-Stokes, G. Ward, A (2023) Neuro Dramatic play Older people and Early onset Dementia in Healthcare, Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal. 
  • Holmwood, C. (2022) Dramatherapy, Tai Chi and Embodiment 戏剧疗法、太极拳及化身 (Chinese Language Version only) in Creative Arts in Education and Therapy – Eastern & Wester Perspectives – Volume 1. 教育和治疗中的创意艺术 - 东西方视角 Netherlands: Inspirees.  
  • Holmwood, C. (2022) I’m going on a Bear Hunt’, Neuro-dramatic Play, Multi-Sensory Informed, Storytelling Approaches to Working with Children Under Five in Jennings S. Holmwood, C. Jack sties, S. (Eds) International Handbook of Stories and Therapeutic Storytelling. London: Routledge 
  • Holmwood, C. (2022)  Making a Dramatic Story out of a Crisis – A Response to Covid-19 A Dramatic Perspective in Jennings S.
  • Holmwood, C. Jacksties, S. (Eds) in The Routledge International Handbook of Stories and Therapeutic Storytelling. London: Routledge  
  • Holmwood, C. (2021) Neuro Dramatic Play and a Hero’s Journey, a Play based Approach in a Junior School in Jennings S.
  • Holmwood, C. (Eds) The International Handbook of Play, Therapeutic Play, and Play Therapy London: Routledge. Pp 167 - 177.  
  • Holmwood, C (2021) A review of  Drama Education (UK) and Integral Drama Based Pedagogy (China) Western and Eastern perspectives and Influences, in Beijing International Review of Educational. Beijing: Brill Publishing 3 (2021) 515 – 528. 
  • Holmwood, C. (2021), ‘Older people, dementia and neuro-dramatic-play: A personal and theoretical drama therapy perspective’, Drama Therapy Review, 7:1, pp. 61–75, doi: 
  • Jennings S. Holmwood, C.  (2021) The International Handbook of Play, Therapeutic Play, and Play Therapy. London: Routledge.  
  • Liwen Ma, L , Wen-Lung Chang WL ,  Holmwood, C. Subbiondo, J. L. (2022) A Qualitative Research Study on the Use of PT in Education toward the Self-development of Future Teachers 回放剧场作为教学法:PT(回放剧场)在教育中用于未来教师自我发展的定性研究 in Creative Arts Education &  Therapy (2022) 1(2):1–12 DOI: 10.15212/CAET/2022/8/25 
  • Mainka, S & Irons, J.Y. (2022) Therapeutic Singing for people with Parkinson’s Musiktherapeutische Umschau (German Journal of Music Therapy) 
  • Irons, J.Y., Sheffield, D., Bonshor, M., Top, L., Boyd, S., Wydenbach, N & Hou, L. (2022) Toolkit for group singing facilitators. available from 
  • Collard-Stokes, G., Irons, J.Y. (2022). Artist wellbeing: exploring the experiences of dance artists delivering community health and wellbeing initiatives. Research in Dance Education 
  • Grebosz-Haring, K., Thun-Hohenstein, L, Schuchter-Wiegand, A. K., Irons, J.Y., Bathke, A., Phillips, K., & Clift, S. (2022). The Need for Robust Critique of Arts and Health Research: Young People, Art Therapy and Mental Health. Frontiers Psychology 
  • Irons, J.Y. & Hancox, G. (2021) “Singing”: Arts for Health series (editor Prof Paul Crawford). Emerald Publishing 
    Sheffield D & Irons J.Y. (2021) Songs for health education and promotion: a systematic review with recommendations. Public Health. 198:280-289. 
  • Irons, J.Y., Garip, G., Cross, A., Sheffield, D & Bird J. (2020). A Systematic Review of Creative Arts Interventions for Older Informal Caregivers for Persons with Neurological Conditions. Plos One 
    Sheffield, D. & Irons, J.Y. (2020). “I don’t want to hold your hand”: Can COVID-19 public health messages delivered through songs? Health Psychology Update 
  • Irons, J.Y., Sheffield, D., Ballington, F., & Stewart, D.E. (2020). A systematic review on the effects of group singing on persistent pain in people with long‐term health conditions. European Journal of Pain, 24(1), 71-90 
  • Irons, J.Y., Hancox, G., Vella-Burrows, T., Han, E.Y., Chong, H. J., Sheffield, D., & Stewart, D.E. (2020). Group singing improves quality of life for people with Parkinson’s: an international study. Aging & Mental Health, 1-7. 
  • Irons, J.Y., Kuipers, P., Wan, A., & Stewart, D.E. (2020). Group singing has multiple benefits in the context of chronic pain: an exploratory pilot study. Pain Management Nursing, 21(3), 259-264. 
  • Astell-Burt, C., McNally, T., Collard-Stokes, G., & Irons, J.Y. (2020). ‘Withness’: Creative spectating for residents living with advanced dementia in care homes. Journal of Applied Arts & Health, 11(1-2), 125-133