Culture, sport and wellbeing: findings from the Understanding Society adult survey

Publication type



Publication date

July 15, 2017


This research has been commissioned as part of the CASE (Culture and Sport Evidence) programme, a joint programme of strategic research led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in collaboration with Arts Council England, Historic England and Sport England. The CASE programme has been developed to directly influence culture and sport policy through collection of social and economic research. This research explored the potential of the Understanding Society surveys to help us build understanding of relationships between culture and sports engagement and the health and wellbeing of adults in England.
Understanding Society is a longitudinal panel survey designed to track and analyse change at individual and household level. It began in January 2009 with an initial sample of 40,000 households. Each adult in the household (aged 16 years or over) is asked to complete a face-to-face survey. Questions on health and wellbeing are asked via a self-completion questionnaire. Some subjects are asked at every survey wave but others, such as those on culture and sports engagement, have only been included at certain waves. They were included in the 2010/11 and 2013/14 adult surveys. This report is based on analysis of data for 20,007 adults from England who completed the adult survey in 2010/11, and again in 2013/14.
The aims of the analysis were to examine patterns of adult engagement in culture and sport over the time period from 2010/11 to 2013/14, and the health and wellbeing benefits that might be associated with such engagement. The report describes how different groups engaged in various types of cultural and sports activity. We also conducted more complex analyses, accounting for differences in the socio-demographic characteristics of different groups, to identify the underlying factors associated with cultural and sports engagement. Changes in patterns of cultural and sports engagement over time were also examined and related to changes in health and well-being.





Prepared for the Culture and Sport Evidence (CASE) programme



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest