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J Cancer Educ. 2008;23(2):80-4. doi: 10.1080/08858190701821204.

Education of creative art therapy to cancer patients: evaluation and effects.

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Helen Dowling Institute, Centre for Psycho-Oncology, Utrecht, the Netherlands.



The course Cancer and Creative Art offers cancer patients the possibility to cope with their illness through creativity and self-expression.


Five groups of 35 participants, predominantly composed of women with breast cancer, participated in an explorative evaluation and effect study; premeasures and postmeasures were applied.


The course met the needs of participants that included personal growth and contact with fellow sufferers as well as exploration and expressing their emotions and coping with their feelings. The participants were satisfied with the organization of the course, but most felt that the sessions were too short and asked for more time for follow-up discussions. They indicated positive changes in coping with their emotions, the awakening of a process of "conscious living," and the development of creativity. Many of the participants felt the intake interview with a psychiatrist was not necessary. Measures taken before and after showed that the activities of daily living deteriorated due the course of the disease. However, the participants indicated that their quest for meaning in life increased after the course. Their mood did not change. The course also improved the general quality of life.


Creative art therapy benefits the quality of life of cancer patients. Follow-up studies should provide more insight into the change process during creative art therapy and its long-term effect on the quality of life for people with cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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