Drawing, making music and writing poetry can support healing and bring more humanity to health care in US hospitals
Having relatives peering through windows at their loved ones or unable to enter hospitals altogether exacerbated the lack of human intimacy that is all too common in health care settings.
- Having relatives peering through windows at their loved ones or unable to enter hospitals altogether exacerbated the lack of human intimacy that is all too common in health care settings.
- Opportunities for creative expression through arts in medicine programs are increasing in U.S. hospitals, and it may be because art-making offers something that medicine can’t.
- Research has also shown that these programs can bring relief from the stresses and burnout that health care workers regularly experience.
- Arts in medicine programs are also correlated with improved blood pressure and less pain and depression for some patients.
Art therapy reduces the sense of isolation
- Ian Cion founded the hospital’s arts in medicine program in 2010.
- Cion’s goal with such collaborative projects was to pull people out of the isolation of illness and into community, and to celebrate and embrace the unknown.
Detachment and routine are rife in hospital settings
- Some were licensed mental health professionals who were professionally prepared for such work, such as art therapists, music therapists and poetry therapists.
- People experiencing hospitalization have shared with me that they often don’t feel seen for who they are when they enter the hospital setting.
- One gentleman stated that he felt literally stripped of his social identity when he was asked to don the anonymous hospital gown.
- But when artists enter the hospital room, they recognize patients as whole people, apart from their diagnosis.
- But my research shows that art-making also provides an important opportunity to engage with the unknown.
- In medicine, the focus is typically on imaging and other testing to reach a diagnosis and a course of treatment.
Building trust through poetry
- I, like some of Campo’s colleagues, wondered how there was room for poetry in the very short time doctors get to spend with their patients.
- Rather than taking up time, the use of poetry builds trust so that patients share their deepest worries more quickly, he noted, giving him more time to meaningfully address them.
The need for a new language around loss and death
- Nearly everyone will face a point in their lives where medicine cannot provide a solution or sustain life.
- Our cultural and medical narratives of illness often do not have adequate language for these moments.
- She told me about a mother who created collages of her very worst fears as well as what brought her hope and strength.