||BACKGROUND: Cultural participation has been used both in governmental health policies and as medical therapy, based on the assumption that cultural activities will improve health. Previous population studies and a human intervention study have shown that religious, social and cultural activities predict increased survival rate. The aim of this study was to analyse the association between cultural activity and perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life in both genders. METHODS: The study is based on the third population-based Nord-Trondelag Health Study (2006-2008), including 50,797 adult participants from Nord-Trondelag County, Norway. Data on cultural activities, both receptive and creative, perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life were collected by comprehensive questionnaires. RESULTS: The logistic regression models, adjusted for relevant cofactors, show that participation in receptive and creative cultural activities was significantly associated with good health, good satisfaction with life, low anxiety and depression scores in both genders. Especially in men, attending receptive, rather than creative, cultural activities was more strongly associated with all health-related outcomes. Statistically significant associations between several single receptive, creative cultural activities and the health-related outcome variables were revealed. CONCLUSION: This population-based study suggests gender-dependent associations between cultural participation and perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life. The results support hypotheses on the effect of cultural activities in health promotion and healthcare, but further longitudinal and experimental studies are warranted to establish a reliable cause-effect relationship.