Arts with Offenders: A literature synthesis

Bonnie Meekums, Jennifer Daniel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    This article applies systematic review and meta-synthesis techniques to research studies (qualitative and quantitative) with the aim of addressing the research question: do the arts have any role to play in therapeutic goals for offenders?

    While arts and arts therapies are used in various offender contexts research has been variable in purpose, style and rigor. This is the first systematic attempt to compile a literature synthesis concerning the role of arts with offender populations.

    A systematic review and literature synthesis of both qualitative and quantitative studies was conducted, with a focus on systematic research addressing questions either of efficacy/effectiveness, or of the nature and experience of arts practice with offenders.

    Notwithstanding methodological shortcomings, arts and arts therapies were invariably found to be associated with improvements in arousal levels, emotional literacy, and quality of life.

    While both qualitative and quantitative reports tend to focus on the same broad issues identified in this literature synthesis, they communicate these findings using very different languages. The authors recommend a mixed methods approach in future research, to facilitate an understanding of the effects of arts with offenders through different lenses and measure their long term effects on offender behaviour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-238
    Number of pages10
    JournalArts in Psychotherapy
    Issue number4
    Early online date13 Jul 2011
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2011


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