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Use of Art-Making Intervention for Pain and Quality of Life Among Cancer Patients: A Systematic Review

Kyung Soo Kim, Sarah Loring, Kristine Kwekkeboom
Journal of Holistic Nursing: Official Journal of the American Holistic Nurses' Association 2018, 36 (4): 341-353

BACKGROUND: Although pain is one of the most prevalent symptoms among cancer patients, medications do not always result in sufficient pain relief. Furthermore, these medications only address the physical component of pain. Art making, a holistic approach, may distract the user's attention from pain and allow expression of the nonphysical (e.g., psychological, spiritual) components of pain. The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate evidence for the efficacy of art-making interventions in reducing pain and improving health-related quality of life (QoL) among cancer patients.

METHOD: PubMed, Academic Search Premier, ProQuest, and CINAHL were searched from database inception to September 2016 using the following search terms: neoplasm, cancer, tumor, pain, pain management, quality of life (QoL), well-being, art therapy, painting, and drawing.

RESULTS: Fourteen articles reporting 13 studies were reviewed. Some studies reported beneficial effects of art making on pain and QoL, but the evidence was weakened by poor study quality ratings, heterogeneity in art-making interventions and outcome measures, interventions including non-art-making components, and few randomized controlled studies.

CONCLUSION: More rigorous research is needed to demonstrate the efficacy of art making in relieving cancer-related pain and improving QoL.


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