NASAA Notes: December 2020

December 1, 2020

Massachusetts: CultureRx Initiative

Young girl visiting Norman Rockwell Museum as part of the Social Prescription Program. Photo courtesy Mass Cultural Council

At the beginning of this year, Mass Cultural Council began a unique joint venture with Massachusetts Health Connector—the Massachusetts state health insurance marketplace—to promote healthier living through cultural engagement. Aimed at the hundreds of thousands of residents who are enrolled through Massachusetts Health Connector, this program provides free or reduced-price admission to more than 100 cultural organizations throughout Massachusetts.

Building on the success of its ConnectorCare Card to Culture program, the Mass Cultural Council launched the CultureRx Social Prescription Pilot with two sites in western Massachusetts. This program encourages a practice called social prescribing, where health care providers, counselors and other medical professionals write prescriptions for patients to participate in cultural programming to support good health. The pilot program took place in Springfield and Berkshire County, and worked with a health care clinic and a pediatrics group to refer patients to partner cultural institutions that were designated as Social Prescription Pilot Organizations. The pilot program also included training on inclusion, diversity, equity and access for participating organizations.

Results from the pilot program evaluation show that the referrals were well-received, with patients reporting an overall increase in their well-being, including increased happiness, decreased stress and a stronger sense of connection to others. Likewise, health practitioners found the program to be beneficial for their patients and viewed fostering formal relationships between arts providers at health care centers as a “net positive.” In the words of one clinician, “This opportunity has opened conversations in the office, in our exam rooms that might not have happened without this pilot. These conversations have given us an opportunity to deepen our connection to our families which we hope results in overall increased patient satisfaction as well as increased engagement with their healthcare partners.” The evaluation also identified ideas for strengthening relationships between arts and health care providers and pointed to the importance of reducing equity and access barriers.

While smaller in scope due to COVID-19 restrictions, closures and gathering guidelines, the overall success of the program has led Mass Cultural Council to announce a new CultureRx Social Prescription cohort for 2021. For more information, contact Program Manager Erik Holmgren.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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