City Research Online

Primary-school-based art therapy: a review of controlled studies

McDonald, A. & Drey, N. (2017). Primary-school-based art therapy: a review of controlled studies. International Journal of Art Therapy: Inscape, doi: 10.1080/17454832.2017.1338741


This study aims to review controlled studies on the effectiveness of primary-school-based art therapy to assess quality, synthesise findings and make informed suggestions for future research. A systematic review was undertaken using database/hand searches, PICOS inclusion/exclusion criteria and the Downs and Black Checklist for Measuring Study Quality. A descriptive synthesis was used to present findings. Out of 201 found, only four papers met the inclusion criteria. Art therapy was reported as having a significant positive impact on some outcomes (classroom behaviour; Oppositional Defiant Disorder; Separation Anxiety Disorder) and non-significant greater gains towards Locus of Control. One paper reported no significant impact on outcomes but maintained scores for self-concept compared to a significant decrease for no intervention. Quality of studies was assessed to be between the 3rd and 5th quintile of possible scores on the Downs and Black Checklist. The studies provided important evidence of some positive effects and no negative effects. Benefits were reported for children struggling with classroom behaviour, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Locus of Control and self-concept. The lack of harm reported is also an important finding. However, to evidence clinical effectiveness, there is an urgent need for further robust research.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Art Therapy on 12 Jul 2017, available online:
Publisher Keywords: Art therapy, primary-school-based, schools, school-based, education, children, outcome-based, research, evidence-based
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
[thumbnail of 170522 SR - PSBAT_Authors.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (912kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login