Study suggests art therapy can ease pain

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new study has concluded that art therapy could possibly help to ease pain for many cancer sufferers but more research is needed, claims the Cancer Research UK.

The research, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, showed that an hour of art therapy could lead to reductions in eight of nine symptoms, when pain was measured using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS).

The study, conducted at the US-based Northwestern Memorial hospital, involved 50 cancer patients over a four-month period and aimed to relieve symptoms such as pain, tiredness, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, lack of appetite, general well-being and shortness of breath. According to researchers, the only area that did not improve through art therapy was nausea.

"Art therapy can help people in emotional distress, as it is a means of expressing inner feelings through creative activity. It is one of a number of complementary therapies that may help people with cancer to feel better," said Jean Slocombe, senior cancer information nurse at Cancer Research UK.

She added: "This study is interesting because it adds to our understanding about the usefulness of this type of intervention. However, this was a small study and more research would be helpful to evaluate the long-term benefits of art therapy."