Arts and Health Research Lab

Our Arts and Health Research Lab is an interdisciplinary research group interested in conducting research in:

We draw membership from across the University's colleges to promote a high level of debate and to promote opportunities for research partnerships to develop and flourish.

Our aims

We aim to:


Stephen Clift, BA, PhD

Stephen Clift is a Professor Emeritus, at Canterbury Christ Church University, and former Director of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health. He is a Visiting Professor at the International Centre for Community Music, York St John University and the School of Music, University of Leeds. Stephen has worked in the field of health promotion and public health for over thirty years and has made contributions to research, practice and training on HIV/AIDS prevention and sex education, international travel and health, and the health-promoting school in Europe. Since 2000 he has pursued research in arts and heath and particularly the potential value of group singing for health and wellbeing. Stephen was one of the founding editors of Arts and Health: An international journal for research, policy and practice. He is joint editor with Professor Paul Camic of the Oxford Textbook of Creative Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

Further research

Build community research consortia to address health disparities Art from the Start. Consortium Build. This bid is being led by the University of Dundee, Josephine Ross. Professor Hogan is Co-investigator AH/X005917/1 from: 1/11/2022. 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. 

This is an AHRC Networking Grant. Professor Susan Hogan is Co-Investigator. Networking will take place through 2023-2024 creating a number of events. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified that refugee children's participation in mainstream schooling in many refugee host countries (RHCs) is substantially lower than their settled peers and that for girls the gap is even more significant.  This project is exploring the literature around arts-based interventions aimed at girls and young women and the particular affordances and ethical complexities of these. 

Developed as a part of the GCRF Education in Conflict and Crisis Research portfolio, this project is aimed at providing baseline research for an interdisciplinary arts and social science network plus (Creative Network). This aims to investigate how innovations in technologies (mobile and digital) can support Cultural and Creative Industries for Refugee Youth (young people aged 16-32 years) that will enable better integration and access to Vocational Education and Training in the Network-hosting communities of six of the world's top 10 RHCs - Turkey, Uganda, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Ethiopia.

This project will advance our theoretical understanding, build strong, equitable and sustainable partnerships, and support the engagement of the Creative Network's stakeholders. This is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project (grant reference AH/T005572/1).

Professor Hogan is the managing editor of a new book series. The Global Health Humanities presents an exciting series that will look at global health humanities incorporating: 

  • Medical humanities
  • Health humanities (broadly defined)
  • History of medicine
  • The Arts & Health

Coordinated by Jill Bunce, this project addresses aspects of the care and treatment of Parkinson’s. In what is a novel approach, it also seeks to examine the potential of dance movement therapy to enhance quality of life and wellbeing in patients.

Paul Rickets continues to develop his body of work examining the impact of professional and self-reflective practice on teaching and learning in higher education.

This project is the collaboration of a team of researchers, academics and practitioners wishing to investigate the effects of Dance Movement Therapy on quality of life, wellbeing and mental health in former UK service personnel. The project aims to evidence Dance Movement Therapy’s ability to provide a positive wellbeing experience by reducing social withdrawal and anxiety, easing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms and the reduction of pain.

Yoon Irons received the MARCH Network Plus Fund and conducted a Mental Health Inclusive Singing Project with a multi-disciplinary team. They investigated the important skills and knowledge when facilitating community group singing with a focus on promoting mental health and wellbeing and developed a toolkit using the Five-Ways to Mental Wellbeing to support group singing facilitators.

Additionally, the team facilitate regular practitioners' meetings to foster community-based group singing practice and provide a platform for supporting group singing facilitators.

Dr Yoon Irons is collaborating with Derby Cathedral music team to develop community group singing programmes with the focus on promoting mental health.

Dr Yoon Irons has been working with a charity, Sing to Beat Parkinson’s to provide research-based singing facilitator training programmes and develop specially designed group singing programmes for people living with Parkinson’s. Currently, Yoon has funding from Parkinson’s UK to conduct a pilot study of drumming with favourite songs in collaboration with a physiotherapy researcher in Scotland.

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" 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, which 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 another small scale research project looking at the use of therapeutic stories with children under the age of 5. 

This is a time of crisis and uncertainty, with climate change being one of the most pressing global challenges that impact our practical, social and emotional life both now and in the future. Scientists believe that global heating is leading to sea level rises, the loss of natural habitats, and shifts in seasonal weather patterns. These can then lead to an increase in extreme weather events and cause concerns about where people can live, how they are able to travel, the sorts of occupations they can engage with, and how they can access adequate supplies of food and water.

There is far less certainty among scientists about the speed and scope at which these changes will take place. Regardless of any short-term action to reduce the causes of global heating, the longer-term projection is that the impacts of global heating will continue long into the future. Our arts-based research methods provide a way for people to explore their emotional understanding of climate change, how they imagine it will impact their communities in the future, and how they imagine future community responses might look like.

Imagination and a sense of belonging can be a powerful tool that communities can use to transition and adapt to an uncertain future. 


a sleek modern building sits under tree boughs on a summer day

Social Prescribing for All

The Social Prescribing for All (SP4ALL) research project aimed to ensure more inclusivity in social prescribing by sharing skills and knowledge between experienced practitioners and trainees from ethnic minority communities.

Find out more about SP4ALLFind out more about SP4ALL
Birth Project art

The Birth Project and Birth Shock!

The Birth Project uses the arts to explore the impact of birth, not only on new mothers but on obstetricians, midwives, doulas and birth-partners. And Birth Shock! is an engagement-focused project that extends the reach of the films created through the Birth Project.

Find out more about the Birth Project and Birth Shock!Find out more about the Birth Project and Birth Shock!