Even though terminal cancer patients receive help from a hospice palliative care team, they have to suffer the pressure of death with deteriorating conditions. This study aims to evaluate the effect of art therapy for these terminal cancer patients.Method:
The patients involved were terminal cancer patients who were under the care of team members, which included physicians, nurses, social workers, clergy, art therapists, and volunteers in a hospice palliative care unit in Taiwan. The art therapy in our study took the form of visual fine art appreciation and hands-on painting. The effects of the art therapy were evaluated according to patients' feelings, cognitions, and behaviors.Results:
There were 177 patients (105 males and 72 females; mean age: 65.4 ±15.8 years) in the study. Each patient received a mean of 2.9 ± 2.0 sessions of the art therapy and produced a mean of 1.8 ± 2.6 pieces of art. During the therapy, most patients described their feelings well, and created art works attentively. Patients expressed these feelings through image appreciation and hands-on painting, among which the landscape was the most common scene in their art. After the therapy, the mean score of patients' artistic expressions (one point to each category: perception of beauty, art appreciation, creativity, hands-on artwork, and the engagement of creating artwork regularly) was 4.0 ± 0.7, significantly higher than the score before therapy (2.2 ± 1.4, p < 0.05). During the therapy, 70% of patients felt much or very much relaxed in their emotional state and 53.1% of patients felt much or very much better physically.Significance of results:
Terminal cancer patients in a hospice palliative care unit in Taiwan may benefit from art therapy through visual art appreciation and hands-on creative artwork.