The Production and Dissemination of Knowledge: A Scoping Review of Arts-Based Health Research

Katherine M. Boydell, Brenda M. Gladstone, Tiziana Volpe, Brooke Allemang, Elaine Stasiulis


The use of arts-based research is shifting our understanding of what counts as evidence and highlights the complexity and multidimensionality involved in creating new knowledge. A scoping review of arts-based health research was undertaken to identify the breadth of peer-reviewed literature, summarize findings and identify gaps. A literature database search identified 71 original studies meeting our criteria for review. Studies were characterized by diverse art genres, designs, and substantive health topics. The arts in qualitative research were considered an opportunity for enhanced engagement of participants and audiences alike, a way to enrich communication and make research accessible beyond academia, and a method for generating data beyond the scope of most interview-based methods. Three central gaps were identified: the need for critical dialogue regarding the impact of arts-based health research, the need to focus on how the quality of such projects is judged, and the need to address the ethical challenges of engaging in this work. We suggest that the broadening of qualitative methodologies to include arts-based approaches offers more than simply adjuncts to typical data collection and dissemination approaches, and instead, presents different ways of knowing. We believe that this may be a significant moment in the field in which to question whether or not we are witness to a paradigmatic shift in the ways we approach inquiry into the social world and/or the emergence of an innovative set of techniques that researchers can draw upon to enhance traditional methods of conducting qualitative inquiry.



scoping review; arts-based health research; knowledge creation; knowledge dissemination; knowledge translation and exchange

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Copyright (c) 2012 Katherine M. Boydell, Brenda M. Gladstone, Tiziana Volpe, Brooke Allemang, Elaine Stasiulis

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