Reading Outcomes Framework Toolkit

Health and wellbeing outcomes

Mental health

An online poll of 4,000 UK adults revealed that regular readers for pleasure reported fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers (Billington, 2015).

Dowrick (2012) investigated impact of a reading group programme run for 12 months by GPs for people who have been diagnosed with depression. Analysis of quantitative and qualitative data suggested a reduction in depressive symptoms for participants.

Two population level studies in the US (Hughes et. al, 2010; Verghese et al. 2003) showed that being engaged in more reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia.

Billington (2013) examined the impact of a literature based intervention on older people living with dementia using mixed-methods including questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with patients and members of staff in care homes and hospitals. Findings revealed that symptom scores were lower during the reading period than at baseline.

Jenkins et al (2011) found that people who read books regularly are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile. In their study of older adults in England, 76% of participants said that reading improves their life and the same percentage said it helps to make them feel good.

Physical health

Pankratow (et al., 2013) found that participants that had read the health article rated health as an important reason to exercise more highly than participants who read a control article. It thus appears that the health article was successful in getting the participants to think about exercising for their health.

An online poll of over four thousand people from a representative sample in the UK revealed that reading for pleasure was associated with better sleeping patterns (Billington, 2015).

Taylor (2011) found that adults with lower levels of literacy are more likely to experience poor health.


An online poll of 4,000 UK adults found that respondents reported stronger feelings of relaxation from reading than from watching television or engaging with technology intensive activities (Billington, 2015).

Interviews with 108 blind and partially sighted adults found that the most frequently cited reasons for reading for pleasure included relaxation and escapism (Spacey et al., 2013).

A study by Greenwood and Hicks (2015) explored the reading habits and rewards of blind and partially sighted children and young people using an online survey, individual and group interviews. The findings indicated that participants considered reading as a way to enhance mood, to relax, to cope with stress and anxiety, and to escape and to engage their imaginations.


  • Billington, J, (2015). Reading between the Lines: the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure, Quick Reads, University of Liverpool
  • Billington, J., Carroll, J., Davis, P., Healey, C., & Kinderman, P. (2013). A literature-based intervention for older people living with dementia. Perspectives in Public Health, 133(3), pp. 165-173.
  • Dowrick, C., Billington, J., Robinson, J., Hamer, A., & Williams, C. (2012). Get into Reading as an intervention for common mental health problems: exploring catalysts for change. Medical Humanities, 38(1), pp. 15-20.
  • Hughes, T. F., Chang, C.-C. H., Vanderbilt, J., & Ganguli, M. (2010). Engagement in Reading and Hobbies and Incident Dementia in the Community: The MoVIES Project. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(3), S100-S100.
  • Jenkins et al (2011). Literacy, Numeracy and Disadvantage Among Older Adults in England. Institute of Education, University of London.
  • Verghese, J., Lipton, R.B., Katz, M.J., Hall, C., Derby, C.A., Kuslansky, G., Ambrose, A.F., Sliwinski, M., Buschke, H. (2003) Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly, New England Journal of Medicine, Waltham: Massachusetts medical society,348:2508-16
  • Billington, J, (2015). Reading between the Lines: the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure, Quick Reads, University of Liverpool
  • Pankratow, M., Berry, T. R., & McHugh, T.-L. F. (2013). Effects of Reading Health and Appearance Exercise Magazine Articles on Perceptions of Attractiveness and Reasons for Exercise. PLoS ONE, 8(4).
  • Taylor, M (2011). Reading at 16 linked to better job prospects. University of Oxford.
  • Spacey, R., Creaser, C., & Hicks, D. (2013). The impact of reading for pleasure on blind and partially sighted adults and its implications for materials provision. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 46(4), pp. 271-288.
  • Greenwood, H. & Hicks, D. (2015) Assessing the Impact of Reading for Blind and Partially Sighted Young People, RNIB, The Reading Agency, Loughborough University.