The art of improving health

Janis Nedela - Rush #2, 2001

Janis Nedela – Rush #2, 2001

A growing body of scientific research suggests artwork exhibited in a hospital can contribute to swifter recovery of patients, shorten hospital stays and help manage pain.

These studies show a positive correlation between art and improved mental, physical and emotional health. 1

Hospitals are not usually known for being welcoming places. They are places where people often feel vulnerable, alone and scared.

It is a time when patients need comfort and reassurance.

Art can help create a more relaxing environment so that therapeutic benefits are passed on to patients and their families and carers.

It has the potential to change a person’s physiology from stress to deep relaxation, change brain wave patterns and affect the nervous system, hormonal balance and brain neurotransmitters.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital Manager Arts Program Connie Petrillo says the simple act of having something to divert your attention from the health problem at hand; that can engage you in something
beautiful or thought-provoking, can calm the mind.

“Patients often comment that the artwork on the corridor walls helped alleviate some of their anxiety as they are taken to theatre,” says Ms Petrillo.

“Our goal is to create an environment that reflects our values of compassion, respect, hospitality, justice and excellence.

“Art is certainly a wonderful way to do this.”

1 Stuckey, H.L. and J. Nobel. February 2010. The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature in American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association.

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