New grants program to help create healing environments in hospitals through art

August 29, 2000

Washington, DC -- In response to the public's demand for more compassionate care in the art of medicine, hospitals and other healthcare providers nationwide have been creating new ways to enhance the healing process through the arts. Recognizing that music, paintings, poetry, and dance can touch the spirit and give respite to patients, families, and staff, the arts in healthcare movement has taken root all across the US during the past twenty years.

The National Endowment for the Arts is aiding this effort by designating a $50,000 Leadership Initiative grant to establish professional arts programs inside healthcare institutions. The grant was awarded to the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, a national service organization founded in 1990 to encourage the incorporation of the arts into healthcare environments of all kinds, from hospitals and hospices to nursing homes and public health programs.

The Society's 550 members include arts administrators, artists, therapists, doctors, nurses, medical students, designers, architects, and patrons, most in the United States but some in Canada, Great Britain, Europe, and Japan.

"The arts are but one of many arrows in a doctor's quiver. They can be used effectively to support the process of healing, enhance communication, improve patient satisfaction, and build community," says Naj Wikoff, Program Director of Healing and the Arts at the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth College and President of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare. "They can uplift the spirits of patients and provide them a respite from pain, enhance doctor patient relations, and communicate health information."

In the first phase of the new NEA-funded training and consultation initiative, the Society is collaborating with Arts Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to develop an advanced leadership training program for selected arts-in-healthcare specialists. The training will take place at the University of Michigan, one of the society's founding member institutions and home to the Gifts of Arts program.

In the second phase, healthcare organizations throughout the country will be invited to apply for funding for an on-site visit by one of the Society's specialists. The specialist will provide guidance in developing a plan, tailored to the organization's resources, to take a wide variety of arts programming into the institution.

For example, the plan might enlist community artists to transform patients' medical experiences through hands-on art, music, or writing. A public health agency could employ an actor to help develop an HIV education program by involving teenagers in role play. A community hospital could collaborate with their local arts council to place an artist in an extended care unit to start a sculpture class or to organize rotating art exhibits. A hospice could create a healing garden where families may be refreshed and consoled.

Patients and staff across the country value their first-hand experiences in the arts as an adjunct to their medical care. They often share their reaction afterward with arts programs organizers, as in the case of a patient at the University of Virginia Medical Center who, minutes after hearing her cancer diagnosis, was drawn towards the sound of a piano being played in the lobby by a medical student.

She later wrote: "So lovely and poignant was the sound; it drew my disengaged spirit back into my emotionally battered body." After the student drew her in to sit beside him as he played, the patient wrote: "I experienced a healing of my entire being. The music restored to me the will to live and infused me with a peace that extends far beyond my own comprehension."

This kind of reaction has spurred outside funding such as the Society's new grant. As NEA chair Bill Ivey said at a recent Department of Health and Human Services meeting in Washington, DC, "The beginning of the new century presents a wonderful opportunity to explore ways in which we can connect the arts more deeply within the healthcare experience. We have the opportunity to expand what the NEA and others have already done, to replicate successful projects, and take on new challenges -- using the arts to enhance the quality of life within the entire medical setting."
The Society for the Arts in Healthcare maintains a Web page at

University of Michigan Health System

Related Healthcare Articles from Brightsurf:

How to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19
Researchers are developing simple and inexpensive tools--like a DIY ventilator--to treat patients more effectively and prevent disease transmission in hospitals.

Healthcare as a climate solution
Although the link may not be obvious, healthcare and climate change -- two issues that pose major challenges around the world -- are in fact more connected than society may realize.

Healthcare's earthquake: Lessons from COVID-19
Leaders and clinician researchers from Beth Israel Lahey Health propose using complexity science to identify strategies that healthcare organizations can use to respond better to the ongoing pandemic and to anticipate future challenges to healthcare delivery.

Poor women in Bangladesh reluctant to use healthcare
A study, published in PLOS ONE, found that the women living in Dhaka slums were reluctant to use institutionalised maternal health care for fear of having to make undocumented payments, unfamiliar institutional processes, lack of social and family support, matters of honour and shame, a culture of silence and inadequate spousal communication on health issues.

Women and men executives have differing perceptions of healthcare workplaces according to a survey report in the Journal of Healthcare Management
Healthcare organizations that can attract and retain talented women executives have the advantage over their peers, finds a special report in the September/October issue of the Journal of Healthcare Management, an official publication of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

Greater financial integration generally not associated with better healthcare quality
New findings from a Dartmouth-led study, published in the August issue of Health Affairs, show that larger, more integrated healthcare systems do not generally deliver better quality care, and that there is significant variation in quality scores across hospitals and physician practices, regardless of whether they are independent or owned by larger systems.

Wearable sensor may help to assess stress in healthcare workers
A wearable biosensor may help monitor stress experienced by healthcare professionals, according to a study published in Physiological Reports.

Healthcare innovators focus on 'quality as a business strategy' -- update from Journal of Healthcare Quality
Despite two decades of effort -- targeting care processes, outcomes, and most recently the value of care - progress has been slow in closing the gap between quality and cost in the US healthcare system.

How runaway healthcare costs are a threat to older adults and what to do about it
Empowering Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices, accelerating the adoption of value-based care, using philanthropy as a catalyst for reform and expanding senior-specific models of care are among recommendations for reducing healthcare costs published in a new special report and supplement to the Winter 2019-20 edition of Generations, the journal of the American Society of Aging (ASA).

How can healthcare achieve real technology driven transformation?
Real transformation in healthcare through the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, telecommunications, and other advanced technologies could provide significant improvements in healthcare quality, productivity, and access.

Read More: Healthcare News and Healthcare Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to