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J Holist Nurs. 2012 Mar;30(1):48-54. doi: 10.1177/0898010111423418. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

Use of creative arts as a complementary therapy by rural women coping with chronic illness.

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College of Nursing, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA.



To investigate the spontaneous use of creative arts as a complementary therapy by rural women in the Western United States who are coping with chronic illness.


Women to Women Project was an 11-week research-based computer intervention that provided health education and support to rural women with chronic illnesses in an effort to help them better adapt to living with chronic conditions.


Through the use of text queries, messages posted to an unprompted, online support and health education forum were examined for references to the spontaneous use of creative arts and their influence as a complementary therapy for dealing with chronic illness.


In three identified themes-coping with pain, relaxation/quality of life, and giving back to others-participants strongly suggested that creative activity was an important strategy for coping with chronic illness and that it contributed to reduced pain and increased overall well-being, regardless of whether it was the expression of a previously learned skill or a practice established after the onset of chronic illness.


The use of creative arts and developing art-making interventions could significantly benefit rural individuals coping with chronic illness. Discovering methods of implementing creative arts interventions in rural populations warrants further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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