Creative arts therapy improves quality of life in young cancer patients, study finds

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A recent study explored the benefits of using creative art therapy (CAT) on young cancer patients.

The study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, was led Jennifer Raybin, PhD, a nurse practitioner who managed the Palliative Care Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Researchers in the study set out to analyze the effects of CAT on the quality of life of young cancer patients. To do this, they enrolled 98 cancer patients aged three to 18 years old and gave varying degrees of CAT to them. Eighteen children were given no CAT at all, 32 receive a low dose of CAT, and 33 were given a high dose. A trained therapist assessed the children’s’ psychological needs and guided them through personalized CAT sessions.

Researchers measured the children’s emotions by asking the patients to use a face scale and report which face reflected how they felt. The study also measured the participants’ resilience levels and posture before and after the experiment. Parents of the children were asked to observe their children’s moods as well.

The results indicated that patients who received CAT has a significantly higher quality of life compared to those who did not. According to researchers, previous studies suggest that posture relates to quality of life. The study found that children with better posture reported higher levels of quality of life. The study also showed that the posture of children who received CAT improved after the therapy.

Researchers concluded that CAT may be an effective tool in improving the quality of life in young patients with cancer. Raybin and her team of researchers hope to further investigate posture as a biomarker for quality of life and continue to promote the use of non-pharmaceutical therapies for young cancer patients in addition to conventional care.

“I am really passionate about not just throwing medicines at these kids,” Raybin said in a statement. “They are so tired of taking medication for their symptoms. It’s important to think about the mind-body connection and any kind of integrative and complementary therapies we could add that can help them process the physical and psychological symptoms.”