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A Pilot Study to Test the Effects of Art-Making Classes for Family Caregivers of Patients With Cancer

Sandra M. Walsh
R. Sue Radcliffe
Lynnette C. Castillo
Adarsh M. Kumar
Dawn M. Broschard
ONF 2007, 34(1), E9-E16 DOI: 10.1188/07.ONF.E9-E16

Purpose/Objectives: To test the effects of an art-making class (AMC) on reducing anxiety and stress among family caregivers of patients with cancer.

Design: A pretest and post-test quasi-experimental design.

Setting: A residential care facility near tertiary treatment centers in the southeastern United States.

Sample: The convenience sample of 69 family caregivers was aged 18-81 years (X = 48 years) and predominantly Catholic. Most had at least a high school education. Two-thirds were daughters, wives, or mothers of patients with cancer.

Methods: Participants completed a demographic data survey and a Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Researchers collected a saliva sample from each participant to measure salivary cortisol, which indicates stress levels. Following pretesting, a two-hour AMC was delivered. Post-tests included a repeat BAI and a second saliva sample.

Main Research Variables: Anxiety and stress.

Findings: Anxiety was significantly reduced after AMC. Stress was reduced.

Conclusions: The AMC appeared to reduce anxiety and stress. The addition of a control group and replication with larger numbers are suggested. The physiologic cortisol measure corroborated BAI findings but was difficult to obtain from some cultural groups and was expensive to analyze.

Implications for Nursing: Family caregivers may benefit from participation in art-making interventions. Nurses should continue to investigate the use of creative approaches to promote holistic care.