Shared Reading: assessing the intrinsic value of a literature-based health intervention

Med Humanit. 2015 Dec;41(2):113-20. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2015-010704. Epub 2015 Jun 12.


Public health strategies have placed increasing emphasis on psychosocial and arts-based strategies for promoting well-being. This study presents preliminary findings for a specific literary-based intervention, Shared Reading, which provides community-based spaces in which individuals can relate with both literature and one another. A 12-week crossover design was conducted with 16 participants to compare benefits associated with six sessions of Shared Reading versus a comparison social activity, Built Environment workshops. Data collected included quantitative self-report measures of psychological well-being, as well as transcript analysis of session recordings and individual video-assisted interviews. Qualitative findings indicated five intrinsic benefits associated with Shared Reading: liveness, creative inarticulacy, the emotional, the personal and the group (or collective identity construction). Quantitative data additionally showed that the intervention is associated with enhancement of a sense of 'Purpose in Life'. Limitations of the study included the small sample size and ceiling effects created by generally high levels of psychological well-being at baseline. The therapeutic potential of reading groups is discussed, including the distinction between instrumental and intrinsic value within arts-and-health interventions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognition
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Promotion / trends
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Literature*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reading*
  • Sample Size
  • Thinking
  • United Kingdom
  • Vulnerable Populations