A study conducted by Dr Judith Paice, director of the Cancer Pain Programme at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago included 50 patients. They were suffering from different cancers and were asked to attend art therapy classes.
The art therapy classes included drawing, painting, pottery and jewellery design. When questioned about the art therapy and their effect on the cancer the patient said that they experienced decreased pain, depression, breathlessness, drowsiness and loss of appetite.
Art therapy previously was used to treat patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and addictions.
From this study it is evident that art therapy is very useful in treating cancer patients and relieving them of their symptoms. This is due to the fact that art therapy helps to turn our attention on something constructive rather than the sad nature of their health.
The study was mainly conducted to show the effect of art therapy on depression and anxiety but it proved to decrease the tiredness of the cancer patients.
The researchers study was basically confined to the nine symptoms, which are evident among the cancer patients. The symptoms were measured in a scale calibrated from 0-10.
Participants chose from a variety of activities and those who were not able to work were assigned a separate art therapist.
After the Art therapy session eight symptoms showed reduced levels in the scale of 10. Tiredness level dropped to 2.9 from 4.4, anxiety to 1.8 from 3.1, other symptoms dropped significantly and the complete well being rose from 2.7 to 3.7. Buy no significant change was seen in the levels of nausea.
In Britain this therapy was used since 1990s. One such case in which art therapy has proved is that of the case of Nicola Wicksteed (song writer) who was diagnosed with breast cancer in1999. She took the drug Tamoxifen as part of the treatment for cancer and also took mistletoe extract, a blend of Indian herbs and art therapy (painting).
At present her tumor, which was two and a half inch completely, disappeared. She believes that art has the capacity to relieve people from stress. Stress has to be combated especially in patients suffering from cancer as if one is stressed it leads to development of cancer which is harmful. Creativity reduces stress and makes one feel better.
New challenges that are faced when being creative relives stress and makes the cancer patient less depressed.