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Patterns of receptive and creative cultural activities and their association with perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life among adults: the HUNT study, Norway
  1. Koenraad Cuypers1,2,
  2. Steinar Krokstad1,2,3,
  3. Turid Lingaas Holmen1,2,
  4. Margunn Skjei Knudtsen4,
  5. Lars Olov Bygren5,6,
  6. Jostein Holmen1,2
  1. 1Nord-Trøndelag Health Study Research Center, Levanger, Norway
  2. 2Department of Public Health and General Practice, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
  3. 3Psychiatric Department, Levanger Hospital, Nord-Trøndelag Health Trust, Norway
  4. 4Department of Health Promotion, Nord-Trøndelag Fylkeskommune, Steinkjer, Norway
  5. 5Department of Bioscience and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  6. 6Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Koenraad Cuypers, Nord-Trøndelag Health Study Research Center, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Skjesol Østre, Åsenfjord 7632, Norway; kjcuype{at}


Background Cultural participation has been used both in governmental health policies and as medical therapy, based on the assumption that cultural activities will improve health. Previous population studies and a human intervention study have shown that religious, social and cultural activities predict increased survival rate. The aim of this study was to analyse the association between cultural activity and perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life in both genders.

Methods The study is based on the third population-based Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (2006–2008), including 50 797 adult participants from Nord-Trøndelag County, Norway. Data on cultural activities, both receptive and creative, perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life were collected by comprehensive questionnaires.

Results The logistic regression models, adjusted for relevant cofactors, show that participation in receptive and creative cultural activities was significantly associated with good health, good satisfaction with life, low anxiety and depression scores in both genders. Especially in men, attending receptive, rather than creative, cultural activities was more strongly associated with all health-related outcomes. Statistically significant associations between several single receptive, creative cultural activities and the health-related outcome variables were revealed.

Conclusion This population-based study suggests gender-dependent associations between cultural participation and perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life. The results support hypotheses on the effect of cultural activities in health promotion and healthcare, but further longitudinal and experimental studies are warranted to establish a reliable cause–effect relationship.

  • Cultural activities
  • leisure time activities
  • health outcomes
  • adults
  • health promotion
  • epidemiology
  • epidemiology FQ
  • mental health DI
  • policy development
  • population surveys
  • public health epidemiology

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  • Funding Public County Council Nord Trondelag, Norway.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Norwegian Data Inspectorate, The Directorate of Health and the Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.