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Scand J Psychol. 2012 Feb;53(1):47-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9450.2011.00923.x. Epub 2011 Oct 25.

Is there evidence for the use of art therapy in treatment of psychosomatic disorders, eating disorders and crisis? A comparative study of two different systems for evaluation.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Skaraborg Hospital, Skövde, Sweden.


A comparative study of two different systems for evaluation. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 53, 47-53. As with any type of treatment the requirement for evidence based practice (EBP) has also affected art therapy (AT) when used as an intervention. This review evaluates the available evidence for using AT for psychosomatic disorders, eating disorders and crisis. The search in Cochrane, Best Practice, AMED, CINAHL, PION, PsycINFO and PubMed from 1987 until now resulted in a huge number of articles but only 32 articles met our criteria for evaluations. The articles were assessed with two evaluation systems, the GRADE system used by the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment (SBU) and the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF/Task Force). When comparing the results we found that the GRADE evaluation system rejected the quality in 84% of the 32 studies and the USPSTF/Task Force 41% of these studies. An evidence base for AT was found only according to the criteria of USPSTF/Task Force. Hence, the evidence concept is not explicit, which means that effective treatments run a risk of not being implemented in health care. We suggest a broader view of what constitutes evidence in order to make it possible to include different types of research designs and methods.

© 2011 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology © 2011 The Scandinavian Psychological Associations.

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