Even though terminal cancer patients receive help from a hospice palliative care team, they have to suffer the pressure of death with deteriorating conditions. This study aims to evaluate the effect of art therapy for these terminal cancer patients.
The patients involved were terminal cancer patients who were under the care of team members, which included physicians, nurses, social workers, clergy, art therapists, and volunteers in a hospice palliative care unit in Taiwan. The art therapy in our study took the form of visual fine art appreciation and hands-on painting. The effects of the art therapy were evaluated according to patients' feelings, cognitions, and behaviors.
There were 177 patients (105 males and 72 females; mean age: 65.4 ±15.8 years) in the study. Each patient received a mean of 2.9 ± 2.0 sessions of the art therapy and produced a mean of 1.8 ± 2.6 pieces of art. During the therapy, most patients described their feelings well, and created art works attentively. Patients expressed these feelings through image appreciation and hands-on painting, among which the landscape was the most common scene in their art. After the therapy, the mean score of patients' artistic expressions (one point to each category: perception of beauty, art appreciation, creativity, hands-on artwork, and the engagement of creating artwork regularly) was 4.0 ± 0.7, significantly higher than the score before therapy (2.2 ± 1.4, p < 0.05). During the therapy, 70% of patients felt much or very much relaxed in their emotional state and 53.1% of patients felt much or very much better physically.
Terminal cancer patients in a hospice palliative care unit in Taiwan may benefit from art therapy through visual art appreciation and hands-on creative artwork.
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