Art Therapy Helps Patients to Feel Positive

A new study reported on by Hematology Times has found that being taught art can significantly decrease pain and anxiety, and promote a positive mood in patients with hematologic malignancies.

Hematologic malignancies, or blood cancers, are forms of cancer that occur in blood-producing tissues such as the bone marrow and immune system cells. Some of the more common hematologic malignancies include leukaemia, lymphomas, and multiple myelomas. Patients with these diseases may experience fevers, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, bone pain, and frequent infections, among other symptoms. The treatment options vary between the different types of disease, but the most common therapies are stem cell transplantation to introduce healthy cells into areas affected by the disease, chemotherapy to stop cancer growth, and radiation therapy to kill cancer cells and improve pain.

The recent study has identified a new form of therapy that may help to improve the wellbeing of patients with these diseases. Named ‘bedside visual art intervention’ (BVAI), it involves a local art teacher giving patients and their families a one-to-one art lesson. 21 blood cancer patients with an age range from 19 to 75 took part in the study, six of whom were undergoing a hematopoietic stem cell transplant. The patients had cancers including multiple myeloma, acute myeloid leukemia, non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphomas, among others. The lesson lasted for about half an hour and involved using different materials like watercolours and clay, which the patients got to keep.

The people taking part were surveyed before and after the BVAI, and the results showed that the activity improved their wellbeing. The patients self-reported an average decrease in pain of 35%, an average decrease in anxiety of 21%, and a significant improvement in their mood. The full results can be found here, in the study paper published in the European Journal of Cancer Care. Of the patients who took part, 85% said that they would be interested in taking part in more art therapy.
These findings show that art therapy could be used to improve blood cancer patients’ wellbeing, and the researchers have suggested that it be used as an addition to their main treatments.

Anna Hewitt

Anna Hewitt

Anna is from England and recently finished her undergraduate degree. She has an interest in medicine and enjoys writing. In her spare time she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with cats.

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