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Pediatr Transplant. 2004 Feb;8(1):52-9.

The use of art therapy to detect depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in pediatric and young adult renal transplant recipients.

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Notre Dame de Namur University, Ralston Avenue, Belmont, CA, USA.


Pediatric and young adult renal transplant recipients may experience feelings of depression and emotional trauma. A study was conducted to (1) determine the prevalence of depression and emotional trauma and (2) assess the utility of the Formal Elements of Art Therapy Scale (FEATS). Sixty-four renal transplant recipients, 6-21 yr of age, were evaluated using self-report measures (CDI and Davidson) and art-based assessments. Subject art was analyzed by art therapists using seven of the 14 elements of the (FEATS), to assess depression. Unlike CDI and Davidson self-report testing, all patients were able to complete the art-based directives. When self-report measures and art-based assessments were combined, 36% of the study population had testing results consistent with depression and/or post-traumatic stress. The FEATS assessments identified a subset of patients who were not identified using the self-report measures. There was a correlation between CDI and Davidson scores (p < 0.0001), Davidson scores correlated with hospital days (p = 0.05), and FEATS correlated with height Z score (p = 0.04) and donor type (p = 0.01). Patients who required psychological interventions including antidepressant therapy, psychological counseling and psychiatric hospitalization during the year after the study were identified as depressed. Sensitivity for FEATS and CDI were 22 and 50% respectively. The results suggest that while art therapy may be of utility in the identification of pediatric and young adult transplant recipients who are suffering from depression, FEATS analysis appears to lack sufficient sensitivity to warrant its use in this population. Study of other quantitative art-based assessment techniques may be warranted.

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