The following notes accompany our feature article Everything We Know About Whether and How the Arts Improves Lives, published on December 19, 2016:
Methodology for Rating Evidence
We use the following definitions for placement on the graph and for describing benefits in the document.
Does the evidence indicate that the benefit exists?
- Yes: the majority of the available evidence supports the claim
- No: the majority of the available evidence opposes the claim
- Mixed: neither of the above conditions is true
How strong is the quality of the evidence?
- High: multiple studies with causal designs (experimental or quasi-experimental)
- Medium: a single study with a causal design, or multiple studies that otherwise make a compelling case for causal interpretation in the judgment of our team
- Low: neither of the above conditions is met
In cases where the supporting, mixed, and opposing evidence is of differing strength, the stronger evidence is given more weight in determining whether the evidence supports the claim.
In the body of the article, we use the qualifier “probably” to describe effects in the Yes/Medium cell of the matrix, “may” to describe effects in the Yes/Low, No/Low, and all Mixed cells of the matrix, “probably not” to describe effects in the No/Medium cell of the matrix, and “does not” to describe effects in the No/High cell of the matrix.
Note: in general, we support methodological diversity, and are not dogmatic about valuing “gold standard” study designs such as randomized controlled trials at the expense of all other types of research. However, in practice, studies with causal designs tend to be much rarer than descriptive and case-study-based research, and therefore more valuable due to their scarcity and the fact that they are typically more challenging to conduct. In addition, given that the questions explored in this review are inherently causal in nature – can we trust that an activity or intervention makes some kind of benefit more likely – it is appropriate to privilege designs that make a convincing attempt to rule out alternative hypotheses for any observed effects. Our rating of evidence strength takes these considerations into account.
Below is a full list of resources which informed this research investigation. Much of our research focused on literature reviews or meta-analyses, and we have included here works that were consulted directly, as well as resources that were encountered within a review and factored into our findings. Works that received a thorough review from Createquity are marked with an asterisk (*).
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Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, Folkestone, Kent, UK. Canterbury Christ Church University, Folkestone, Kent, UK: Retrieved from http://www. Ahsw. Org. uk/userfiles/Other_Resources/SSCRCTsummaryreportOct12. Pdf
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Development Services Group, Inc. (2016). Arts-Based Programs and Arts Therapies for At-Risk, Justice-Involved, and Traumatized Youths. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/mpg/litreviews/Arts-Based-Programs-for-Youth.pdf
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