Patients reported lower pain levels after the intervention, with a 39.4% decrease among those who had high pain scores. The team says this indicates the potential impact of art on pain. A significant decrease — overall reduction of 21.6% — was seen in anxiety. In terms of mood, the results demonstrated positive mood was increased by 14.6%, and negative mood decreased by 18%.2
The Mayo Clinic researchers felt the most significant factor in their study was that the program employed artist-educators, not art therapists. Although the researchers fully support the clinical role of certified art therapists, this study sought to determine if a holistic activity could provide clinical benefit for patients. In addition, the researchers felt that using artist-educators would provide an open-ended format for creativity independent of targeted clinical analysis. Furthermore, although artist-educators require orientation on communicating in a clinical setting, they may be more readily available within the community than certified art therapists.
The bedside interventions proved to be an overall positive experience, according to 20 of 21 participants, with most patients saying they would participate in other art-based interventions in the future. The researchers felt that programs such as their Bedside Visual Art Intervention could become more important as treatment becomes more holistic.
As one patient commented, “Excellent way to remind the patients they are still alive … yes, you are a person.”2
1. About Art Therapy. American Art Therapy Association website. https://arttherapy.org/about-art-therapy/. Accessed June 4, 2018
2. Saw JJ, Curry EA, Ehlers SL, et al. A brief bedside visual art intervention decreases anxiety and improves pain and mood in patients with haematologic malignancies [published online April 17, 2018]. European Journal of Cancer Care. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12852.