We are very fortunate with the quality of clinical treatment facilities and services here in Australia. Treatment of any sort is widely acknowledged as one of the more stressful times of life and those treatments are focussed on the direct approach relative to the symptoms. There is growing support and evidence, that modern treatment needs to more holistically treat the person, including the state of mind or “spirit”.
The conversation is a global one and a far-reaching movement involving all care settings. The undertaking of required research, will compliment significant existing research into the connection between visual arts and well-being, completing a much-needed understanding of how best to benefit care recipients with visual art, beyond the primary, and usually somatic, symptoms.
Research in Scandinavia has been world leading in recent years. For example in Denmark, The KØS Museum of Art in Public Spaces recently ran a research based seminar “What Does Art Do in Hospitals”. The KØS curator (Lene Bøgh Rønberg) and her team joined forces with sociologist Annete Stenslund to try and understand some of the rationales that govern existing principles and practices of hospital art.
Structuring the exhibition around 5 themes – colours, views of nature, travel and memory, identification and participation, and life and death, the team investigated the place and impact of art in hospitals and its purported role in supporting a healing process and beyond.
The findings from this seminar will compliment three years of research already undertaken, and hopefully shed yet more light on how we can bring even better benefit to care settings in selecting visual arts that add genuine benefit to the patient experience.
Much of modern research undertaken, is inspired by work undertaken by Roger S Ulrich in the early 1980’s. In particular his study “View through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery” has long been seen as a landmark contribution to further research into visual art and well-being. In a recent interview he was asked “What was the impact of that study on your career?” to which he responded:
“One of the gratifying things about the study is that in recent years, several medical researchers working independently have reproduced the main results. In other words, the findings hold up when tested by others. There is quite an active area of medical research today that uses nature distraction to reduce pain. Most of these studies are rigorous; virtually all have reported significant pain-reduction effects; and all cite the window view study as a starting point.” (to read the full interview click here)
Roger Ulrich’s studies have stood the test of time but in 35 years we have not significantly advanced on those findings.
The time is now, and the care community is really starting to show an understanding for the need to place value in determining how best to apply visual art to the advantage of the patient well-being and improved experience.
How would you know if the art in your care setting is providing maximum benefit towards improving the patient experience?
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