the arts in healthcare movement

One of the exciting and promising recent developments in the arena of healthcare is the integration of the arts into the healing and recovery process. Forty percent of hospitals across the country are recruiting artists and musicians into waiting rooms and to hospital bedsides to guide patients and their families in making art as an important component of the experience of illness and return to health.

The National Institute of Health recognizes the benefits of the Arts. “Scientists are finding that the arts can benefit your mental and physical health. Current research is following a number of paths. Some scientists measure the natural substances your body produces when you are listening to music or otherwise exposed to the arts. Others look at what happens when  you are active in the creative  process. researchers are now investigating how the arts can help us recover from disease, injury, and psychological trauma. Many scientists agree the arts can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve well-being and enhance the way we fight infection.” 1

Individuals with cancer who participated in a one hour art therapy session reported statistically significant reduction in eight of nine symptoms common to adult cancer inpatients – pain, tiredness, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, appetite, well-being, and breathlessness. 2

“The days of depersonalized, frightening, noisy, and confusing care environments are numbered. research, experience, and common sense demonstrate that the arts are appropriate, effective, and cost-efficient strategies. The relatively low cost of arts programs can often be funded by philanthropic sources in the arts community that do not compete with other funding initiatives. Today’s healthcare leaders can honor the fullness of human aspiration as expressed through the arts within their hospitals’ activities and design. Incorporating the restorative quality of the arts will benefit patients and their loved ones, caregivers, the larger community, and the bottom line.”3

1National Institute of Health, “More Than a Feeling:How the Arts Affect Your Health.” NIH News in Health (June, 2008)

2 Nainis, N., Paice, J., Raner, J., Wirth, J., Lai, J., and Shott, S. “Relieving Symptoms in Cancer: Innovative Use of Art Therapy.” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 31 (2), 162-169 (2006)

3 Ridenour, Annette, and Sandler, Blair. Transforming the Healthcare Experience Through the Arts (San Diego, Aesthetic, Inc., 2009)




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