Stress is one of the world's largest health problems, leading to exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, a weak immune system, or even organ damage. In Germany, stress-induced work absenteeism costs about 20 billion Euros per year. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Central Federal Association of the public Health Insurance Funds in Germany ascribes particular importance to stress prevention and stress management as well as health enhancing measures. Building on current integrative and embodied stress theories, Creative Arts Therapies (CATs) or arts interventions are an innovative way to prevent stress and improve stress management. CATs encompass art, music, dance/movement, and drama therapy as their four major modalities. In order to obtain an overview of CATs and arts interventions' efficacy in the context of stress reduction and management, we conducted a systematic review with a search in the following data bases: Academic Search Complete, ERIC, Medline, Psyndex, PsycINFO and SocINDEX. Studies were included employing the PICOS principle and rated according to their evidence level. We included 37 studies, 73% of which were randomized controlled trials. 81.1% of the included studies reported a significant reduction of stress in the participants due to interventions of one of the four arts modalities.
Keywords: art; arts interventions; creative arts therapies (CATs); dance; drama; music; prevention; stress; systematic review.