Culture, Sport and Wellbeing: About

Participation and involvement in cultural and sporting activities is believed to enhance quality of life, promote socialProfessor Christina Victor engagement, foster community cohesion and enhance wellbeing in terms of life satisfaction, experience of happiness or worries and the worthwhile things in life. However the evidence base to demonstrate these relationships is limited. There are key gaps in our understanding of the link between wellbeing and sport and cultural activities and how evidence can be effectively used to inform policy and practice. Specifically we are unclear as to how wellbeing benefits when these activities are experienced in different contexts and environments by different populations across the UK.

The culture and sport evidence programme will evaluate the existing evidence describing

  • wellbeing benefits of different culture and sport practices
  • how enduring the wellbeing benefits are over time
  • the cost-effectiveness of these activities
  • how these benefits are distributed between different groups and user communities including people of different gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, age, stage of life course and with or without long term physical and mental health problems.

This programme will draw together the best evidence on culture, sport and wellbeing and will do this by working closely with 5 key with stakeholder groups – policy makers, commissioners, service deliverers, researchers and the public. They share a common interest in identifying, promoting and sharing the evidence to maximise the potential of culture and sport to enhance wellbeing in a form that can be used to effectively inform policy and practice in the fields of culture and sport.

The culture and sport evidence programme will be undertaken by a team of researchers lead by Brunel University London in collaboration with University of Brighton, London School of Economics and Winchester University.

Lead Investigator

Christina Victor is Professor of Gerontology and Public Health and Vice Dean (Research) in the College of Health and Life sciences at Brunel University London. Christina’s primary research interests are in understanding the experience of ageing and later life in contemporary society. She has an international reputation for her research on loneliness and isolation in later life supported by research funds awarded by ESRC, Dunhill, Guide Dogs and the Alzheimer’s Society. Her other key research area focus upon understanding well being across the life course; the experience of new ageing populations such as older people in minority communities and groups growing old with a disability; living with dementia and promoting physical activity in later life. Christina has written 200 journal articles and book chapters and has published 8 books in the field of gerontology. She is Editor in Chief of Ageing and Society, the leading social gerontology journal in Europe and is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and the Academy of Social Sciences.

We are delighted to have been awarded the evidence review programme to examine the links between culture, sport and wellbeing and to have the opportunity to work with the what works in wellbeing centre and our colleagues at the London school of economics and Brighton and Winchester universities. Our project will look not just at how culture and sport can promote wellbeing, but also at how long these benefits last and how they may be differentially experienced by different groups within the population.

The delivery plan comprises 4 systematic reviews and 1 scoping review with associated secondary analysis work. Details of the proposed reviews are as follows:

 Planned evidence review and secondary analysis work

Scope of review: Review will include analysis of all protected characteristics (age, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion, pregnancy/maternity, marriage/civil partnerships) and income and/or socio-economic status. Gaps will be identified, as appropriate to culture and sport, and listed in a register. Review will include provision for economic evaluation. Potential for brief scoping reviews on identified ‘gap’ topics will be considered

Dec 2015- July 2016: A systematic review of the wellbeing outcomes of music and singing of adults (15+ years) and the processes by which wellbeing outcomes are achieved.

Aug 2016- Jan 2017:A systematic review of the wellbeing outcomes of sport and dance for adolescents and young people (14-25 years) and the processes by which wellbeing outcomes are achieved.

Feb 2017-July 2017:A systematic review of the wellbeing outcomes of visual arts for adults (15+ years) with a mental health condition and the processes by which wellbeing outcomes are achieved.

Aug 2017- Jan 2018: A systematic review of the wellbeing outcomes of sport and recreation across the family lifecourse and the processes by which wellbeing outcomes are achieved.

Feb 2018- May 2018: A scoping review of the wellbeing outcomes of co-produced culture and sport, community and work and learning interventions, and the processes by which wellbeing outcomes are achieved.

Secondary Analysis: Statistical analysis of existing data, to better understand the causal effect, as well as the indirect effect of culture and sport on SWB.

  • Going for Gold Survey
  • American Time Use Survey
  • Understanding Society
  • English Longitudinal Study of Ageing
  • Annual Population Survey
  • Eurobarometer
  • World Value Survey


Dr Louise Mansfield Brunel University London Prof Paul Dolan London School of Economics
Prof Tess Kay Brunel University London Prof Alan Tomlinson University of Brighton
Dr Catherine Meads Brunel University London Prof Guy Julier University of Brighton
Dr Annette Payne Brunel University London Prof Norma Daykin University of Winchester
Dr Louise Longworth Brunel University London