Arts in Healthcare is a diverse, multidisciplinary field dedicated to transforming the healthcare experience by connecting people with the power of the arts at key moments in their lives. This rapidly growing field integrates the arts, including literary, performing and visual arts and design, into a wide variety of healthcare and community settings for therapeutic, educational and expressive purposes.
Areas of focus include:
- Patient Care - The incorporation of the arts into the healthcare experience has a positive impact on patient health outcomes. The arts benefit patients by aiding in their physical, mental and emotional recovery, including relieving anxiety and decreasing the perception of pain. In an atmosphere where the patient often feels out of control, the arts can serve as a therapeutic and healing tool, reducing stress and loneliness and providing opportunities for self-expression. Art also has the power to communicate and educate, giving it a growing role of significance in healthcare institutions. In addition, research shows that the arts can reduce patients' use of pain medication and length of stay in the hospital, and improve compliance with recommended treatments—offering substantial savings in healthcare costs.
- Healthcare Environments - The arts create safer, more supportive and functional environments in healthcare facilities. From architectural design to art on the walls, from access to natural lighting to the inclusion of nature through landscape and healing gardens, the physical environment has a significant impact on reducing patient and caregiver stress; improving health outcomes; enhancing patient safety and overall quality of care; and reducing costs. The physical environment also plays an important role in improving the health and safety for staff, increasing effectiveness in providing care, reducing errors and increasing job satisfaction.
- Caring for Caregivers - Caregivers, such as family, friends and healthcare providers in hospitals, hospices and other health facilities, are faced with the realities of human suffering, illnesses and death on a daily basis. Arts programming for caregivers creates a common, more normative environment, and offers caregivers an opportunity for creativity and self-expression that allows them to healthfully integrate their experiences and emotions instead of carrying them home or into the workplace. In addition, the arts give medical professionals new tools for improving diagnostic and communication skills and can be used to better communicate health and recovery information. The arts help overcome barriers by embracing diversity, reinforcing family members' supportive role in the healing process, and changing the culture within the healthcare facility to one that is more supportive and humane.
- Community Well-being - Arts in healthcare can benefit communities by engaging people in arts programs aimed at promoting prevention and wellness activities and communicating health information to improve knowledge. For students in medical and other healthcare fields, the arts can enhance their skills-improving their observational, diagnostic and empathic abilities. It helps them to understand patients in a different way and connect with them on a more humanizing level.
An excerpt from the State of the Field Report