Background Dying in Australia has been recognised as amongst the most institutionalised in the world. Discussion of death and dying is largely taboo in contemporary society, resulting in a lack of formal advance care planning or personal reflection on end-of-life considerations. To address this problem, a pilot study was developed as an innovative health promotion activity, drawing upon the Arts.
Aim To explore how an arts medium might influence public discussion on end of life issues in the community.
Methods An action research approach was used to collect survey data from a community sample attending a Canberra marketplace. 54 participants completed a 14 item questionnaire, after viewing a photographic exhibition that provided international narratives on death and dying. Qualitative descriptors were elicited from participants to describe their reactions to viewing the exhibition, and quantitative data were analysed for frequency.
Results Most participants agreed the exhibition effectively engaged members of the public in conversations about death and dying. After viewing the exhibition, they were more inclined to consider or prepare a legal will, enduring or medical power of attorney, or an advance care plan (ACP).
Conclusion From this pilot study, there are preliminary but encouraging data to suggest that the Arts are an effective medium for health promoting approaches. We propose further use of Arts-based activities in communities to promote public discussions about death and dying.
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