“It remains possible the association presented here could be the result of unidentified confounding factors, but it is promising that the association is maintained even when controlling for a wide range of socio-economic, demographic, health, social and behavioural factors,” Professor Fancourt told Reuters Health in an email at the time.
The study’s results are in line with previous research that suggested the arts may support longevity by improving mental health, enhancing social capital and reducing loneliness and sedentary behaviours, the authors noted in The BMJ.
“We show the same pattern in a larger sample followed-up for a longer period,” said Professor Fancourt.
The authors analysed data on a nationally-representative sample of 6,710 people who were 50 or older in 2002 when they joined a long-term ageing study. In 2004-5, participants were asked how often they engaged with the arts, as well as a host of questions about their habits, background, education, financial situation and social lives.