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Publication Detail
Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between arts engagement, loneliness, and social support in adolescence
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Bone J, Fancourt D, Fluharty ME, Paul E, Sonke JK, Bu F
  • Publication date:
  • Addresses:
    Jessica Bone
    University College London
    Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health
    1-19 Torrington Place
    WC1E 7HB
    United Kingdom
Objective Although arts engagement holds promise for reducing loneliness and enhancing social support, previous research has focussed on older adults. We investigated whether arts engagement was associated with loneliness and social support during adolescence. Method We included 11,060 adolescents aged 11-21 years from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The number of school-based arts activities engaged in (band, book club, chorus/choir, cheerleading/dance, drama club, newspaper, orchestra) was measured at wave one (1994-1995) and loneliness and perceived social support were measured at waves one and two (1996). We used logistic and linear regression to test whether engagement was associated with concurrent and subsequent loneliness and social support. Results Arts engagement was not associated with concurrent or subsequent loneliness. In contrast, each additional arts activity engaged in was associated with an increase of 0.20 points in social support, concurrently (coef=0.20, 95% CI=0.02-0.38, p=0.03) and longitudinally (coef=0.20, 95% CI=0.02-0.38, p=0.03), independent of confounders. However, evidence for the longitudinal association was attenuated after adjusting for previous social support (coef=0.08, 95% CI=-0.07-0.23, p=0.30). This was likely due to the consistency of social support scores between waves one and two. Conclusion Extracurricular arts activities are associated with higher social support, which may be because they provide opportunities for social engagement, developing friendships, and building a sense of community. However, given the lack of association with changes in social support over time, exploring these associations in more detail should be a priority, enabling better understanding of this strategy for enhancing social ties during adolescence.
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