RELIEVING SYMPTOMS IN CANCER: INNOVATIVE USE OF ART THERAPY
Volume 31, Issue 2, Pages 162-169 (February 2006) by the JOURNAL OF PAIN AND SYMPTOM MANAGEMENT
Nancy Nainis, MA, ATR, Judith A. Paice, PhD, RN, Julia Ratner, BA, James H. Wirth, BA, Jerry Lai, BA, Susan Shott, PhD
Art therapy has been used in a variety of clinical settings and populations, although few studies have explored its use in cancer symptom control. The specific aim of this study was to determine the effect of a 1-hour art therapy session on pain and other symptoms common to adult cancer inpatients. A quasi-experimental design was used (n=50). The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Index (STAI-S) were used prior to and after the art therapy to quantify symptoms, while open-ended questions evaluated the subjects’ perceptions of the experience. There were statistically significant reductions in eight of nine symptoms measured by the ESAS, including the global distress score, as well as significant differences in most of the domains measured by the STAI-S. Subjects overwhelmingly expressed comfort with the process and desire to continue with therapy. This study provides beginning evidence for the efficacy of art therapy in reducing a broad spectrum of symptoms in cancer inpatients.