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NCCIH Research Blog

Updates on Arts-Based Interventions and Integrative Health

May 29, 2024

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.

Director

Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

Music, dance, and the visual arts have long played key roles in human experience. They move us, lift our moods, challenge us to think, and help us communicate. And a growing body of research suggests that they may also help promote our physical and mental health.

Here at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), we have an ongoing interest in research on the arts and their potential benefits for health and wellness. In this post, I want to share information with you about three exciting developments in this field: a new book to add to your reading list, a research funding opportunity, and a challenge for the music and health research community.

  • The new book, Music and Mind: Harnessing the Arts for Health and Wellnessbrings together diverse perspectives on the impact of the arts on health and well-being from scientists, artists, creative arts therapists, educators, and health professionals. It was edited by renowned soprano Renée Fleming, a leading advocate for the scientific study of the connections between the arts and health and a strong supporter of National Institutes of Health (NIH) arts-related initiatives. A group of us from NCCIH contributed a chapter to the book in which we discussed how arts-based experiences can be incorporated into an integrative, whole person approach to health care. I’d like to thank my coauthors Wen Chen, Catherine Law, Mark Pitcher, and Helene M. Langevin for the time they spent working with me on the chapter. 
  • The funding opportunity, PAR-24-168, is for proof-of-concept feasibility trials guided by the NIH Music-Based Intervention Toolkit for rigorous clinical studies of music-based interventions for brain disorders of aging. I discussed the toolkit in a previous blog post when it was published last year. Application due dates for this funding opportunity are June 20 and October 21, 2024, and we look forward to seeing some excellent proposals for projects that will advance research in this field while also helping to validate the toolkit.
  • The challenge comes from the recent workshop, Music as Medicine: The Science and Clinical Practice, which the other workshop organizers and I have summarized in a brief commentary in The LancetMuch discussion at the workshop focused on how best to move the field of music and health research forward. Suggestions included developing a shared lexicon to facilitate collaboration across disciplines, incorporating implementation science into clinical trial planning from the outset, holding regular multistakeholder meetings, creating a transdisciplinary service organization or high-impact peer-reviewed journal, and establishing new prizes that incentivize collaboration. These are all promising ideas, and we would like to see others as well. What do you think? What ideas do you have about how to harness the enthusiasm that was so evident at the workshop? Please share your views in the comment section below or email us at Music_Box@mail.nih.gov

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