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Arts & Public Health. Dr Frances Howie Assistant Director of Public Health . What is Public Health? Health Improvement in Worcestershire Local examples of the arts delivering public health The future. Arts and Public Health.

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Arts & Public Health

Dr Frances Howie

Assistant Director of Public Health

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What is Public Health?

Health Improvement in Worcestershire

Local examples of the arts delivering public health

The future

Arts and Public Health

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the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society”

What is Public Health?

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Health improvement (lifestyles, structural determinants, inequalities).

Improving services (clinical effectiveness, audit and evaluation, epidemiology).

Health protection (infectious diseases, environmental hazards, emergency planning).

Three pillars of public health

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19th century, Public Health Acts re: water, drainage, sewers inequalities).

Late 19th century, development of germ theory

20th century, control of infectious diseases, antibiotics, mass vaccination and immunisation

Late 20th century, health inequalities, avoidable disease burden caused by lifestyle

Health Improvement

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Lifestyle related disease as major cause of avoidable disease

Continued unhealthy lifestyles and persistent inequalities

Projected to get worse, life expectancy change

Drivers for Worcestershire health Improvement Strategy

21st century health improvement: avoidable disease burden

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Strong local leadership disease

Partnership working in all planning and delivery

Empowering support to enable those who need support to make informed choices and take control over their lives

Targeted support to those who need it most especially those who we have not yet reached

Personalised services, tailored to meet different needs

Worcestershire Partnership health Improvement Strategy: 5 Core Values

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Strengthen leadership disease

Develop a suite of evidence based healthy lifestyle services so that everyone in the county is enabled to make healthy lifestyle choices

Improve the quality of and access to information about healthy lifestyles

Train staff so that they are better able to look after their own health and to provide advice to others

Worcestershire Partnership health Improvement Strategy: 4 Goals

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Health Improvement Fund disease

Community Leadership for Health Fund

Worcestershire Partnership health Improvement Strategy: two funds

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Health Improvement Targets disease

increasing adults physical activity

reducing childhood obesity

reducing teenage pregnancy

reducing numbers of smokers

reducing numbers of people admitted to hospital because of injuries caused by alcohol

reducing deaths from circulatory diseases amongst under 75s

Increasing opportunities for young people to take part in positive activities

Worcestershire Partnership health Improvement Strategy: two funds

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Evaluation criteria disease

clear link to one or more health improvement targets

partnership working between agencies

engagement with communities

evidence based

working in areas or with social groups with highest needs

measurable outcomes

clear element of sustainability

evidence of value for money

Worcestershire Partnership health Improvement Strategy: two funds

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£1 million over 3 years, fully allocated disease

41 projects approved

Grants programme with bids invited

Various projects using the arts as a means to health improvement:

Health Improvement Fund

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County-wide disease

Dancefest awarded £50,000 in May 2010 as a contribution towards ‘12 Moves’. Funding is being used to establish dance squads across the County. Since the start of the project over 1100 people have attended dance sessions


Redditch Borough Council in conjunction with Arts in Redditch and Jestaminute Theatre Co awarded £31,598 in May 2010 to tackle teenage conception rates using theatre techniques

Your Ideas awarded £65,000 in May 2010 to deliver a youth development programme for 70 young people focussing on sexual health and teenage conception using a variety of arts based activities including drama, photography and film


Droitwich youth zone awarded £74,677 in December 2008 to establish a drop-in centre in the heart of the town. Receives over 200 visits per week. Provides a range of bespoke services and activities to address health issues such as smoking, under age drinking and obesity including music, art and drama workshops

Health Improvement Fund:

Arts & Health Projects

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£500,000 made available disease

160 projects supported

Allocated to county councillors on an allocation formula

Various project using the arts as a means to health improvement:

Community Leadership for Health Fund

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Bromsgrove disease

Urban arts workshops for up to 32 at risk young people to tackle obesity and smoking

Activities that stimulate outdoor creative play and provide opportunities for creative learning aimed at young children aged 0-5 and their families at a local children centre

Wyre Forest

After School dance/fitness clubs for up to 30 primary and secondary school children

Community Leadership for Health Fund

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Evaluation of these projects will build our local evidence base but nationally some very clear findings, eg Bronchial Boogie (asthmatic children 7 – 11 in area of high deprivation, 38 week pilot showed 70% decrease in night and 58% decrease in day symptoms; 54% decreased in symptoms on exercise; medicine compliance increased from 58% to 91%)

Arts can improve mental and physical health directly by: getting messages across in different media (theatre in education); communicating with the hard-to-reach population through art therapy; improving the environment of hospital buildings; working in outdoors settings to increase physical activity and the time spend in green space;

And more indirectly by increasing self-esteem; by building community cohesion and social capital.


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A good start is being made in Worcestershire, today and through the arts programmes already in place, to which more health funding than ever before has gone;

Arts becoming embedded in our services, e.g. Malvern hospital;

Still great potential, in the short, medium and long term;

Health improvement remains a priority for this government, and a new Public Health White paper is being launched today

Key values in the White paper are consistent : freedom to make informed choices/fairness for all to have the opportunity to be healthy/responsibility for own health

Partnership, doing what works, and localism as key principles

The Future

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Public health priorities include health improvement, promoting healthy lifestyles and reducing health inequalities, reducing the avoidable health burden;

The arts have an important role in the multi-faceted solution to the ‘wicked’ problem of changing lifestyles;

We need to work in partnership to deliver a local, shared, vision of maximising the role;

Partnerships are easy to say, and hard to do

Require leadership/ sustained commitment/common language/shared vision

Today is a great start!


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To access the Worcestershire Partnership Health Improvement Strategy, visit:

For more information on the work of Public Health, visit:

Further information