Objectives To evaluate the influence of art therapy in reducing palliative symptoms, on social availability and on perceptions of aesthetics in hospitalised palliative care patients. The secondary objective was to evaluate its influence on bereaved families.
Methods A mixed-method quasi-experimental before and after study comprising a follow-up postal survey of bereaved families. All patients who were keen to have art therapy sessions were eligible. We used patient-reported outcome scales 5 min before and after the session. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale has been used for pain, anxiety, well-being, fatigue and depression. Ten-point visual analogue scales were used for social availability, lack of desire and wishes, and perceptions of aesthetics based on the Beautiful–Well–Good model. A postal survey was sent to bereaved families. Correlations and data mining analyses were performed.
Results In all, 24 patients were recruited for a total of 53 art therapy sessions analysed. Seven families completed the survey. Art therapy significantly reduced the assessed symptoms and overall symptom distress by 54.4% (p <0.001, d = 1.08). It also decreased the feeling of social unavailability (−59%, d = 0.67) and the lack of desire and wishes (−60%, d=0.86). The analysis of the family questionnaires indicates the positive effects regarding support, artwork and feelings during illness and grief.
Conclusion Our results suggest an overall improvement in the symptoms experienced and social functioning of palliative patients. Based on our findings, we propose a model for the potential mechanism of action of art therapy.
- art therapy
- palliative care
- symptoms and symptom management
- complementary therapy
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CL and GE contributed equally.
Contributors CL: designed the study, provided the art therapy sessions, reviewed the manuscript. GE: analysed the data, drafted the manuscript. CT: designed the study, collected the data. EP-C: supervised the study and reviewed the manuscript. MF: designed the study, supervised the study, reviewed the manuscript (contributor responsible for the overall content).
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Data are available upon reasonable request sent to the corresponding author.
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