Deputy Minister of Tourism Pauletić participated in the opening ceremony of the International Moscow Fair of Tourism and Travel (MITT), which is being held from March 23 to 26 at the Expocentre in Moscow. During his stay in Moscow, Deputy Minister Pauletić met with the Director of the Sector for Tourism and Regional Policy Olga Jarilova and the Acting Director of the Sector for International Cooperation Olga Andonjeva at the Ministry of Culture. to be held at the end of April in Zagreb.This also represents a turning point between Russian-Croatian cooperation in the field of tourism. As part of the meeting to discuss activities in the field of cooperation through tourism in the next three years, a B2B workshop between Russian and Croatian travel organizers would be organized. Furthermore, the idea of holding a month of Russian tourism in Croatia was proposed, so that since the Russian school holidays begin on May 25 and last until June 20, during this pre-season period, tourist traffic from Russia could be further intensified.After illogical and incomprehensible years of wandering around the issue of the arrival of Russian tourists, finally a concrete move and open cooperation in solving all problems with the aim of increasing the arrival of Russian tourists to the Adriatic. We hope that these activities will not remain only on paper and that the Ministry will be proactive because in today’s world and fierce competition, every guest is important, let alone Russian tourists who have been inclined to the Adriatic coast for years. The Ministry of Tourism points out that this year they expect the negative trend of Russian tourist arrivals to stop, and the growth of about 20 percent of Russian guest arrivals, ie approaching the numbers before the introduction of the visa regime. If the predictions come true, it would certainly be a very good reason to celebrate both in the Ministry of Tourism and all tourism workers. But it is a long way to go, but it is certainly commendable that the first step has been taken, which certainly raises positive hope. Last year, Croatia was visited by 113 guests from Russia, who spent 866 nights. Last year, Russia was also the 16th market in terms of the number of overnight stays in Croatia, with a share of 1,08% in total overnight stays.Despite the fact that the number of Russian tourists has been declining in the last few years, Russian tourists are extremely important to us because they stay in Croatia for more than eight days on average and are excellent consumers, said Deputy Minister of Tourism Pauletic.”We are talking with our Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the introduction of multiple-entry visas and how to possibly reduce the final cost of making visas for Russian tourists. What makes me extremely happy is that twice as many charter flights to Croatia have been announced this year compared to last year, and our national airline has also announced a Zagreb-St. Petersburg. ” One of the key factors in the arrival of all tourists is good transport connections, and the meeting emphasized that they will continue to further strengthen transport connections between Russia and Croatia. Furthermore, the Deputy Minister presented the Croatian tourist offer, which, in addition to the hotel, abounds in luxury private accommodation and yachting, for which Russian tourists are very interested.
Biokovo Nature Park presented the bike trails of the Makarska Riviera and the Biokovo Nature Park through a new promotional video created within the project “Bike trails of the Makarska Riviera and the Biokovo Nature Park in the destination development strategy.With a recreational cycling activity, the promotional video takes you through the natural beauties of the Makarska Riviera and Biokovo, reveals beautiful beaches and cultural sights. The sun and the sea have not been enough for a long time, but in combination with an active vacation, they certainly complement each other perfectly. Introduce your guests to the facilities offered by your destination and the surrounding area.Tell them a story and give them information. Did you know how it is possible to see Italy 250 km away from Biokovo? Tell this story to guests from Italy, it will surely motivate them to visit the Biokovo Nature Park and experience a unique experience.If the guest is satisfied, you will be too, because they will return to you next year.
Yesterday, in the hall of the Split-Dalmatia County, the prefect Zlatko Ževrnja signed and handed over contracts for the award of grants for raising the quality of the tourist offer in the Split-Dalmatia County within the program “Program for raising the quality of the tourist offer”. Beneficiaries are legal and natural persons who provide accommodation services in rooms, studio apartments, suites, holiday homes and exclusively for existing facilities in order to raise the quality of the facility.About 80 small renters received support, and the total amount of allocated funds is 1,5 million kuna, while individual grants amounted to 5.000 to 30.000 thousand kuna. “Despite the not very large county budget, we managed to cover this type of entrepreneurship as well. We want to help you, too, small renters. I am glad that more and more renters come from the Dalmatian hinterland because that part geographically occupies 80 percent of the area of our county, and only one percent of guests get acquainted with all the benefits of the hinterland. There lies a huge potential and we all have to work together to exploit it. We are at your disposal for, in addition to this help, also for the educational one”, Pointed out Zlatko Ževrnja, prefect of Split-Dalmatia County, and added that through this support program, in addition to tourism, the economic effect was launched because through it many small and medium craftsmen and entrepreneurs are engaged.The Head of the Administrative Department for Tourism and Maritime Affairs emphasized that the goal of this program is to achieve that “Dalmatian flair”. He also announced its sequel in 2017. ” And through the next year, this project continues, and we add some news. We will also increase funds, especially for those landlords who decide to professionalize, or establish businesses and companies”, Emphasized the head of Čogelj. Beneficiaries thanked the County for the grant, and pointed out that they are very welcome because investments are necessary every year if you want to stay, but also to attract new guests.
LinkedIn Pinterest Share Share on Twitter A research team from the University of Houston has created an algorithm that allowed a man to grasp a bottle and other objects with a prosthetic hand, powered only by his thoughts.The technique, demonstrated with a 56-year-old man whose right hand had been amputated, uses non-invasive brain monitoring, capturing brain activity to determine what parts of the brain are involved in grasping an object. With that information, researchers created a computer program, or brain-machine interface (BMI), that harnessed the subject’s intentions and allowed him to successfully grasp objects, including a water bottle and a credit card. The subject grasped the selected objects 80 percent of the time using a high-tech bionic hand fitted to the amputee’s stump.Previous studies involving either surgically implanted electrodes or myoelectric control, which relies upon electrical signals from muscles in the arm, have shown similar success rates, according to the researchers. Email Share on Facebook Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal, a neuroscientist and engineer at UH, said the non-invasive method offers several advantages: It avoids the risks of surgically implanting electrodes by measuring brain activity via scalp electroencephalogram, or EEG. And myoelectric systems aren’t an option for all people, because they require that neural activity from muscles relevant to hand grasping remain intact.The results of the study were published March 30 in Frontiers in Neuroscience, in the Neuroprosthetics section.Contreras-Vidal, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH, was lead author of the paper, along with graduate students Harshavardhan Ashok Agashe, Andrew Young Paek and Yuhang Zhang.The work, funded by the National Science Foundation, demonstrates for the first time EEG-based BMI control of a multi-fingered prosthetic hand for grasping by an amputee. It also could lead to the development of better prosthetics, Contreras-Vidal said.Beyond demonstrating that prosthetic control is possible using non-invasive EEG, researchers said the study offers a new understanding of the neuroscience of grasping and will be applicable to rehabilitation for other types of injuries, including stroke and spinal cord injury.New University of Houston research has demonstrated that an amputee can grasp with a bionic hand, powered only by his thoughts. Photo credit: University of HoustonThe study subjects – five able-bodied, right-handed men and women, all in their 20s, as well as the amputee – were tested using a 64-channel active EEG, with electrodes attached to the scalp to capture brain activity. Contreras-Vidal said brain activity was recorded in multiple areas, including the motor cortex and areas known to be used in action observation and decision-making, and occurred between 50 milliseconds and 90 milliseconds before the hand began to grasp.That provided evidence that the brain predicted the movement, rather than reflecting it, he said.“Current upper limb neuroprosthetics restore some degree of functional ability, but fail to approach the ease of use and dexterity of the natural hand, particularly for grasping movements,” the researchers wrote, noting that work with invasive cortical electrodes has been shown to allow some hand control but not at the level necessary for all daily activities.“Further, the inherent risks associated with surgery required to implant electrodes, along with the long-term stability of recorded signals, is of concern. … Here we show that it is feasible to extract detailed information on intended grasping movements to various objects in a natural, intuitive manner, from a plurality of scalp EEG signals.”Until now, this was thought to be possible only with brain signals acquired invasively inside or on the surface of the brain.Researchers first recorded brain activity and hand movement in the able-bodied volunteers as they picked up five objects, each chosen to illustrate a different type of grasp: a soda can, a compact disc, a credit card, a small coin and a screwdriver. The recorded data were used to create decoders of neural activity into motor signals, which successfully reconstructed the grasping movements.They then fitted the amputee subject with a computer-controlled neuroprosthetic hand and told him to observe and imagine himself controlling the hand as it moved and grasped the objects.The subject’s EEG data, along with information about prosthetic hand movements gleaned from the able-bodied volunteers, were used to build the algorithm.Contreras-Vidal said additional practice, along with refining the algorithm, could increase the success rate to 100 percent.
LinkedIn Email Pinterest Share Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Drugs used to treat common complaints could delay the recovery of brain injury patients according to research led by University of East Anglia (UEA) scientists working with other UK universities including Aston and the NHS, published today in Brain Injury.Prescribed for up to 50 per cent of older people, medications with anticholinergic properties are used to treat a broad range of common conditions including bladder problems, depression and insomnia.Anticholinergics are already known to have side effects such as temporary cognitive impairment, dizziness and confusion. But their effects on people with pre-existing brain and spinal injuries have not been investigated until now. Medications with anti-cholinergic properties are often used on neuro-rehabilitation units frequently to manage symptoms from urinary incontinence to pain.The study of 52 patients with acquired brain or spinal injury at a neuro-rehabilitation unit showed that the average length of stay was longer in patients with a higher level of anticholinergic drugs in their system, known as the anticholinergic drug burden, or ACB.Results showed that the change in ACB correlated directly to the length of hospital stay. A higher ACB score on discharge, compared with on admission, was associated with a longer stay in hospital and a lower ACB on discharge saw on average a shorter stay. The team cautioned however that as an observational study, cause-and-effect relationship cannot be implied.Dr Chris Fox, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Norwich Medical School at UEA and lead author on the paper, said: “The findings suggest there may be a statistically significant relationship between ACB score and length of stay in a neuro-rehabilitation unit following traumatic brain or spinal cord injury”.He added: “This pilot study demonstrates the need for larger studies to confirm the results and need for further investigation into what long-term effects these common medications are having on the recovery of these patients.”“While medications with ACB are often needed to treat common complications of brain or spinal cord injuries, cognitive impairment due to the medication may adversely affect a patient’s ability to engage in the rehabilitation process, potentially increasing their length of stay in hospital.”Length of patient stay is used a performance indicator for hospitals, with financial incentives in place for units to discharge patients as soon as is safe.Dr Ian Maidment, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy at Aston University said: “This work adds to the evidence that anticholinergics should be avoided in a wide-range of populations, when possible. Regular medication review by a nurse, doctor or pharmacist may be a way of ensuring that medicines with anti-cholinergic effects are used appropriately.”Prof Fox said: “Identifying factors which might adversely affect the length of a patient’s stay can have important financial as well as quality of life implications. So the findings of this study could be directly useful to current health care settings if they can reduce the time patients spend in rehabilitation units, improving wider efficiency of care.”‘Does anticholinergics drug burden relate to global neuro-disability outcome measures and length of hospital stay?‘ is published in the journal Brain Injury on Monday 10 August 2015.
LinkedIn Share on Twitter Psychology is still digesting the implications of a large study published last month, in which a team led by University of Virginia’s Brian Nosek repeated 100 psychological experiments and found that only 36% of originally “significant” (in the statistical sense) results were replicated.Commentators are divided over how much to worry about the news. Some psychologists have suggested that the field is in “crisis,” a claim that others (such as Northeastern University psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett) have flatly denied.What can we make of such divergence of opinion? Is the discipline in crisis or not? Not in the way that some seemed to suggest, but that doesn’t mean substantial changes aren’t needed. Pinterest Mixing up what the study really tells usCertainly the fact that 64% of the findings were found unstable is surprising and disconcerting. But some of the more sensational press response has been disappointing.Over at The Guardian, a headline writer implied the study delivered a “bleak verdict on validity of psychology experiment results.” Meanwhile an article in The Independent claimed that much of “psychology research really is just psycho-babble.”And everywhere there was the term “failure to replicate,” a subtly sinister phrasing that makes nonreplication sound necessarily like a bad thing, as though “success” in replication were the goal of science. “Psychology can’t be trusted,” runs the implicit narrative here, “the people conducting these experiments have been wasting their time.”Reactions like this tied themselves up in a logical confusion; to believe that nonreplication demonstrated the failure of psychology is incoherent, as it entails a privileging of this latest set of results over the earlier ones. This can’t be right: it makes no sense to put stock in a new set of experimental results if you think their main lesson is to cast doubt on all experimental findings.Experiments should be considered in the aggregate, with conclusions most safely drawn from multiple demonstrations of any given finding.Running experiments is like flipping a coin to establish whether it is biased. Flipping it 20 times, and finding it comes up heads for 17 of them, might start to raise your suspicions. But extreme results like this are actually more likely when the number of flips is lower. You would want to try that coin many more times before feeling confident enough to wager that something funny is going on. Failure to replicate your majority of heads in a sample of 100 flips would indicate just that you hadn’t flipped the coin enough to make a safe conclusion the first time around.This need for aggregation is the basis of an argument advanced by Stanford’s John Ioannidis, a medical researcher who proposed 10 years ago that most published research findings (not just those in psychology) are false. Ioannidis highlights the positive side of facing up to something he and many other people have suspected for a while. He also points out that psychology is almost certainly not alone among scientific disciplines.Real crisis is we don’t try to replicate enoughThe fact is, psychology has long been aware that replication is a good idea. Its importance is evident in the longstanding practice of researchers creating systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses (statistical aggregations of existing published findings) to give one another broader understandings of the field. Researchers just haven’t been abiding by best practice. As psychologist Vaughan Bell pointed out, a big part of Nosek’s achievement was in the logistical challenge of getting such a huge study done with so many cooperating researchers.This brings us to the actual nature of the crisis revealed by the Science study; what Nosek and his colleagues showed is that psychologists need to be doing more to try to replicate their work if they want a better understanding of how much of it is reliable. Unfortunately, as journalist Ed Yong pointed out in his Atlantic coverage of the Nosek study (and in a reply to Barrett’s op-ed) there are several powerful professional disincentives to actually running the same experiments again. In a nutshell, the profession rewards publications and journals publish results which are new and counter-intuitive. The problem is compounded by the media, which tend to disseminate experimental findings as unquestionable “discoveries” or even God-given truths.So though psychology (and very likely not only psychology) most certainly has something of a crisis on its hands, it is not a crisis of the discipline’s methodology or rules. Two of the study’s authors made some suggestions for improvement on The Conversation, including incentives for more open research practices and even obligatory openness with data and preregistration of experiments. These recommendations reiterate what methods specialists have said for years. Hopefully the discussion stirred up by Nosek and colleagues’ efforts will also inspire others.In essence, everyone agrees that experimental coin flipping is a reasonable way to proceed. This study exposed a flaw of the discipline’s sociology, of what people actually do and why they do it. Put another way, psychologists have already developed a perfectly effective system for conducting research; the problem is that so few of them really use it.Huw Green, PhD Student and Trainee Clinical Psychologist at the Graduate Center, City University of New YorkThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Share Share on Facebook Email
Share on Facebook Researchers at Case Western Reserve University may have found a new way information is communicated throughout the brain.Their discovery could lead to identifying possible new targets to investigate brain waves associated with memory and epilepsy and better understand healthy physiology.They recorded neural spikes traveling at a speed too slow for known mechanisms to circulate throughout the brain. The only explanation, the scientists say, is the wave is spread by a mild electrical field they could detect. Computer modeling and in-vitro testing support their theory. “Others have been working on such phenomena for decades, but no one has ever made these connections,” said Steven J. Schiff, director of the Center for Neural Engineering at Penn State University, who was not involved in the study. “The implications are that such directed fields can be used to modulate both pathological activities, such as seizures, and to interact with cognitive rhythms that help regulate a variety of processes in the brain.”Scientists Dominique Durand, Elmer Lincoln Lindseth Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Case School of Engineering and leader of the research, former graduate student Chen Sui and current PhD students Rajat Shivacharan and Mingming Zhang, report their findings in The Journal of Neuroscience.“Researchers have thought that the brain’s endogenous electrical fields are too weak to propagate wave transmission,” Durand said. “But it appears the brain may be using the fields to communicate without synaptic transmissions, gap junctions or diffusion.”How the fields may workComputer modeling and testing on mouse hippocampi (the central part of the brain associated with memory and spatial navigation) in the lab indicate the field begins in one cell or group of cells.Although the electrical field is of low amplitude, the field excites and activates immediate neighbors, which, in turn, excite and activate immediate neighbors, and so on across the brain at a rate of about 0.1 meter per second.Blocking the endogenous electrical field in the mouse hippocampus and increasing the distance between cells in the computer model and in-vitro both slowed the speed of the wave.These results, the researchers say, confirm that the propagation mechanism for the activity is consistent with the electrical field.Because sleep waves and theta waves–which are associated with forming memories during sleep–and epileptic seizure waves travel at about 1 meter per second, the researchers are now investigating whether the electrical fields play a role in normal physiology and in epilepsy.If so, they will try to discern what information the fields may be carrying. Durand’s lab is also investigating where the endogenous spikes come from. LinkedIn Share on Twitter Email Share Pinterest
Share on Twitter Email Pinterest Share on Facebook A psychedelic brew known as ayahuasca may help people “think outside the box,” according to a new study published in the journal Psychopharmacology. But more research is needed.Ayahuasca has been used in the healing ceremonies of indigenous Amazon tribes for centuries. The psychoactive drink is traditionally prepared using plants which contain beta-carbolines such as harmaline and tryptamines like DMT.Researchers led by K. P. C. Kuypers of Maastricht University visited two spiritual ayahuasca-using groups to investigate the drug’s effect on divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking describes the process of generating many possible solutions to a problem. Convergent thinking, on the other hand, refers to the process of narrowing down potential solutions to find one correct answer. “Creative divergent thinking can enhance and strengthen psychological flexibility by allowing individuals to generate new and effective cognitive, emotional, and behavioral strategies on their own which helps them to adopt adaptive interpretations and coping styles,” the researchers explained.Kuypers and his colleagues recruited 26 participants for their study. These volunteers had all consumed ayahuasca previously.The participants first completed two creativity tasks designed to measure divergent and convergent thinking. About 3 hours later, they consumed ayahuasca in a dimly lit room while music played in the background. After waiting 2 hours for the drug to reach its peak, the participants completed the two creativity tasks again.Only one of the tests, the Picture Concept Task, indicated that ayahuasca produced changes in divergent and convergent thinking. The task required participants to find associations between a number of pictures that were aligned into rows.The researchers found that after consuming ayahuasca, the participants had a harder time finding the one correct association but were better at providing as many alternative answers as possible. Ayahuasca appeared to cause a decrease in conventional convergent thinking but enhance creative divergent thinking.There has been a renewal of interest in the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs. The authors cautioned that their findings were preliminary, but said their study could have some implications for this line of research.“The present study has shown that ayahuasca promotes divergent thinking, an ability which has been shown to be an important aspect in cognitive therapy,” Kuypers and his colleagues concluded. “It can therefore be suggested that ayahuasca possesses qualities that can promote a therapeutic process. However, since convergent thinking is also a critical aspect in therapy, and the current findings show that ayahuasca impairs this facet during the acute phase, future studies have to investigate whether this effect profile changes over time.”They added: “Additional research utilizing a placebo-controlled experimental design, including additional creativity measures, is warranted, before results can be generalized.” Share LinkedIn
Share Share on Facebook And with its multidimensional framework, the study goes much further in revealing more nuanced scenarios in which sometimes the best idea is to keep one’s mouth shut.Self-evaluation and others’ perceptionsTo do the research, Heck and Brown Professor Joachim Krueger conducted a series of online experiments involving a total of 400 volunteers over two main phases.In the first phase, participants read single-page descriptions of people who said they scored better than average on an ability test and people who said they did worse. For each one the volunteers also learned their test scores so they’d know whether any bragging — or self-effacement — was based in truth. Half the volunteers were told the tested ability was intelligence while the other half were told that the test was of morality.In every case the hypothetical subjects were male, to control for potentially confounding effects of gender.The volunteers were then asked to rate the competence and the morality of the four different categories of individuals — those who bragged and scored high, those who bragged but scored low, those who self-effaced and scored high, and those who self-effaced and scored low.The participants judged the people who bragged about their intelligence and scored high as the most competent. They were even judged as more competent than people who scored high but said they scored low, suggesting that when competence is the issue, it pays to advertise. But correct braggers were not seen as any more moral than people who self-effaced, whether the self-effacers were actually smart or not. In fact, those who claimed to be worse than average were seen as more moral than those who claimed to be better.Participants reserved harsh judgment for individuals who bragged about their performance but were proven wrong by the evidence. Such people were deemed significantly less competent and less moral than any other man. The same was true for undeserving braggers when the test was of their morality, rather than their intelligence.“In all cases, claiming to be better than average when the evidence shows otherwise is the worst strategic move you can make,” Heck said.In a second phase, half of an entirely new group of 200 volunteers did the same thing as participants in the first experiment, though now all the hypothetical men were all talking and testing on intelligence, not morality. Given essentially the same experimental procedure, these volunteers produced very similar results as the participants in the first phase, showing that the results could be replicated in a new group of volunteers.But the other half of the new second-phase group were given something different to consider. Some of them got information on the individuals’ test results, but didn’t know whether they bragged or self-effaced. Others learned who claimed to be better than average and who claimed to be worse, but didn’t see their test results. These volunteers were asked to judge the competence and morality of the different types of hypothetical men.Not surprisingly, people who scored high on the intelligence test were seen as more competent but not any more moral than those who scored low. But when scores were not known, they were caught in the humility paradox: those who bragged about their intelligence were believed to be more competent, but less moral, than those who said they didn’t do well.Combining the results, it was clear in the data that men who were smart and said so were perceived as more competent than men who were smart but didn’t say so, or men who said they were smart but for whom evidence wasn’t available.Meanwhile, self-effacers were perceived as less competent when their scores were not known than men who self-effaced when their scores were known, regardless of what the scores showed. In other words, just declaring oneself to be not particularly smart is worse for one’s perceived competence than being shown to be right about not being smart, or being shown to be smart despite one’s gloomy self-assessment.“This pattern holds an intriguing lesson for a person of low self-confidence,” Heck and Krueger wrote. “The winning strategy might be to abstain from making any self-related assessment unless objective results are at hand.”Scenarios and strategiesIndeed, the paper is rife with such guidance, Heck said. People who want to know whether to brag, to self-efface or to say nothing need to know whether their goal is to improve their perceived competence or morality, and whether the facts back them up, contradict them, or will never be known.“The answer depends on which aspect of your reputation you are concerned with,” Heck said. “If you are more concerned with your perceived morality — your likability, trustworthiness and ethics — the answer is simple: avoid self-enhancing claims, even if the evidence supports them. Here, humility is the best option.“If you are more concerned with your perceived competence — your intelligence or capability to get the job done — things are more nuanced,” he said. “Here, you should only claim to be better than average if you are sure (or fairly certain) that (a) the evidence will support this claim, or (b) supporting evidence will never be revealed. If there is a possibility that the evidence will invalidate your self-enhancing claim, the best option is to simply remain humble.”That can pose a problem for many political candidates, who rarely remain humble, even as they are subjected to fact-checks that don’t always go their way. LinkedIn Email Life is full of auditions in which it might seem advantageous, if not outright required, to describe oneself as above average. Think of job interviews, dating or running for president of the United States. A new study that measured how people judge those who made such boasts and those who didn’t, however, showed that making self-superiority or self-effacement claims is a strategy with considerable complexity and risk, often requiring a person to know whether evidence of their true ability could come to light.Probably the most intuitive result of the study is that there is a significant tradeoff, a “humility paradox,” in which individuals who claim to be of above-average ability will be perceived as more competent, but sometimes less moral, than those who remain humble. And once actual evidence of ability comes into play, those who unduly inflate their self-image pay the steepest price on both aspects of their character.“Our biggest theoretical contribution is that the paper casts the decision to claim to be better than others as a strategic choice,” said Patrick Heck, lead author of the study in Social Psychology and a graduate student in Brown University’s Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences. “It turns out that if you know the evidence isn’t ever going to show up, then your reputation as a competent person is in good shape when you claim to be better than others — but the opposite is true for your reputation as a moral person.” Pinterest Share on Twitter
Researchers at the University of Gloucestershire have recently evaluated data from nearly 1,300 primary care patients in South West England, finding a course of arts-on-prescription to provide a significant improvement in overall wellbeing, including in those with very complex care needs.The group’s findings have been published recently in European Journal of Public Health.“Social prescribing”, or the provision of non-medical interventions in primary care settings, has been on the rise in recent years. It is based on the knowledge that health is determined by a wide variety of factors, and these wider factors (social, emotional, and economic) cannot be remedied by medicine alone. They are a response to the biggest public health challenges we face today; mental health, loneliness, ageing, and long-term health conditions. Patients can be referred to participate in these schemes for very general reasons, like increasing overall wellbeing, self-esteem, or confidence; or for more specific reasons, like providing support during bereavement, or reducing anxiety or depression. Share on Twitter Unlike art therapy, arts-on-prescription schemes provide art courses where patients can choose to learn how to draw, paint, create mosaics, or playwright. The courses are led by local artists, and are community-based rather than being based on specific medical needs. The groups that are referred are usually quite small, with between three and ten individuals, and may be based in local surgeries or community facilities. Those who take part are then provided with materials, and a dedicated space to carry out their activities. What makes these interventions unique is that they provide the participants with anonymity from what has brought them there, eliminating a shared “elephant in the room” that is their diagnosis, or specific medical need.Well received by patients, health professionals, and arts providers alike, the benefits of art for health schemes have long been recognised as valuable. Despite this, they have still been struggling to gain traction in mainstream primary care, even with recognition from a recent inquiry report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. Until recently, the evidence base for these interventions has been from studies using small groups of patients, making it difficult to draw solid conclusions from something that will ultimately involve investment from the public purse.The researchers have evaluated evidence from patients referred for arts activities through Artlift, a charity based in South West England that provides courses with local artists across the region. Through using the largest database available of patients referred through such schemes they have found that patients experience quantifiable improvements in overall wellbeing from participating in these arts courses.Diane Crone, Professor in the School of Health and Social Care at the University, said: “We’ve worked with Artlift for a long time now, and have known through some previous research how the patients feel about it. One comment that’s really stuck with me from speaking with patients was that ‘Artlift lifts your heart’. For me, this captures the personal significance of it brilliantly”.“It’s great to be able to finally provide substantial, and significant evidence from data collected over 7 years for these interventions,” she added.Even in recent years, where tightening budgets, and challenges to health commissioning have been on the increase, the evidence supports the benefits of these interventions to those who need it the most. Since beginning to provide arts-on-prescription in the region, Artlift has had to change the services it has offered, from an initial 10-week course with the possibility of multiple re-referrals, to an eight-week course with only one additional re-referral available.Despite this, the evidence shows that the benefits in improved wellbeing experienced by the patients being referred are not only still significant, but they actually seem to be greater in these shorter courses.Paul Flynn, executive director of Artlift, comments: “Artlift has been providing arts for wellbeing benefits for nine years, so the results of this research are welcome, but not surprising. We are told almost on a daily basis that the interventions have significantly improved the lives of participants who have felt better able to cope with serious life issues. We hear of people developing friendships, returning to work and even being able to repair marriages and other relationships, such is the impact that Artlift can have.”The work carried out by Professor Diane Crone and her team at the University of Gloucestershire also shows that this intervention is effective in increasing wellbeing in what is perhaps the most complicated, but increasingly important group in primary care; those with multiple health conditions. The team have been able to identify just over 200 people within the dataset that have multiple medical conditions across different categories like cancers, diabetes, pain conditions, mental health problems, and cardiovascular diseases.Professor Crone says: “These complex multiple care needs are becoming more and more common in primary care in the UK, and beyond; so understanding how they can be supported will be vital in helping to navigate the key public health issues we see today.”Whilst these findings are important for primary care providers, the researchers note that the most important message here is for health commissioners.“These non-medical interventions can potentially offer solutions to some of the most challenging issues arising in public health. While wellbeing is often viewed as something intangible, it is a critical issue that is central to supporting physical health,” Professor Crone says.Artlift executive director Paul also confirms the importance of using this important evidence to support improvements in policy: “We welcome the findings of this report and thank the University of Gloucestershire for their rigorous efforts in its production. We hope it will convince those responsible for health budgets to seriously consider arts interventions to benefit their communities – there is enough evidence now that arts are not a ‘nice to have’ but a genuinely beneficial intervention – and cost effective for the NHS.”By providing community-based arts activities, like those supported by Artlift, patients are given the tools and space to express themselves, a new skill that can be sustained well beyond the scheme itself; and they are introduced to others in their community, increasing connectedness in a society where loneliness is becoming the norm. LinkedIn Email Share Share on Facebook Pinterest