Is Art the Right Prescription?by Bivi Franco on 08/10/16
Since the beginning of modern medicine, doctors have weighed heavily on the developments and research from pharmaceutical companies to heal their patients. As time has went on, new research has emerged and some doctors are exploring non-traditional healing practices and “writing” new prescriptions to complement their plan of action. These prescriptions are to address the patient’s wellness and quality of life while undergoing treatment. According to the chapter titled, “Arts for health in community settings: promising practices for using the arts to enhance wellness, access to healthcare, and health literacy” in the Oxford Textbook of Creative Arts, Health, and Wellbeing, authors Jill Sonke and Jenny Baxley Lee assert:
Use of the arts as a means to educate the public, foster social
engagement and social change, and influence the behaviours of targeted
populations has a long history. Arts-based health promotion has its
historical roots in traditional cultures where story-telling, drama, and
song are primary means for facilitating healing and enforcing the belief
systems of a given culture. (3)
As the authors state, the use of arts in health has been a long studied tradition that has been shown to influence positive health outcomes. Arts-based programs include painting, pottery and jewelry-making workshops like Workshops with Patients and Through My Window programs. Programs like these provide an outlet for emotional release and exploration as providing an atmosphere where the focus is on their ability to create and beauty instead of their health issues. Our organization was created with the purpose of providing love, hope and encouragement to women and girls affected by cancer through Arts in Health program. In providing love, hope and encouragement, we hope to also focus on their whole wellness and quality of life.
Sonke and Lee stated that “According to the National Wellness Institute in the United States,
wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and
make choices toward, a more successful existence (Hettler 1976)” (4). Hospitals and cancer centers like our 15 beneficiaries-in-kind are placing importance and making room for much needed health programs like ours. The arts are ideally suited for promoting this integrated approach. Numerous studies demonstrate that arts participation can affect health behaviour and promote wellness in individuals across the life course (Stuckey and Nobel 2010; Hanna et al.
2011; Camic and Chatterjee 2013) (4).
As the concept and field of arts and health grows, partnerships are flourishing and positive outcomes are yielded. Research is trending towards the creative arts influencing more positive outcomes and creating a better quality of life for patients. Only time will tell if it is truly the right prescription. Feel Beautiful Today hopes to continue its work of positively impacting cancer patients’ quality of life.
Sonke, J. and Baxley Lee, J. (2015). Arts for health in community settings: promising
practices for using the arts to enhance wellness, access to healthcare, and health literacy In Oxford Textbook of Creative Arts, Health, and Wellbeing: International perspectives on practice, policy and research (pp. 1-22). Oxford University Press.