Art Helps Hospitalized Patients Manage Pain, Anxiety


A recent article in The North Jersey Record describes how art is being used to help manage hospitalized patients’ pain and anxiety.1 At Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center, patients wheeled down a long corridor to the diagnostic testing department pass a dazzling array of 50 original art works—floral designs, landscapes, and abstracts—curated by the Art School at Old Church in Demarest.

Half of U.S. hospitals have some sort of art program, according to a 2009 report from the Society for the Arts in Healthcare. Although the research is still in its infancy, evidence suggests that programs incorporating art therapy can help reduce stress, anxiety, and pain in patients with cancer and other conditions, while increasing their satisfaction with their care.2,3,4

UK Arts in Healthcare at University of Kentucky HealthCare in Lexington brings the visual arts into health facilities and presents performing arts, music, and art therapies at Albert B. Chandler Hospital and other UK hospitals and clinics. Art in clinic waiting areas at UK improved patient satisfaction scores, which got the attention of hospital administrators, says Arts in Healthcare Program Director Jacqueline Hamilton.

Larry Beresford is a freelance writer in Alameda, Calif.


  1. Petrick J. Art is used to help healing process in hospitals. The North Jersey Record. January 25, 2015. Available at: http://www.northjersey.com/arts-and-entertainment/art/art-is-used-to-help-healing-process-in-hospitals-1.1251254. Accessed March 9, 2015.
  2. Puetz TW, Morley CA, Herring MP. Effects of creative arts therapies on psychological symptoms and quality of life in patients with cancer. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(11):960-969.
  3. Thyme KE, Sundin EC, Wiberg B, Öster I, Aström S, Lindh J. Individual brief art therapy can be helpful for women with breast cancer: a randomized controlled clinical study. Palliat Support Care. 2009;7(1):87-95.
  4. Wood MJM, Molassiotis A, Payne S. What research evidence is there for the use of art therapy in the management of symptoms in adults with cancer? A systematic review. Psychooncology. 2011;20(2):135-145.

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