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Effect of Art Making on Cancer-Related Symptoms of Blood and Marrow Transplantation Recipients

Lisa Mische Lawson
Phoebe Williams
Cathy Glennon
Kendall Carithers
Erin Schnabel
Amy Andrejack
Nicole Wright
ONF 2012, 39(4), E353-E360 DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.E353-E360

Purpose/Objectives: To examine whether a one-hour art-making session during blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) treatment significantly affects therapy-related symptoms, state anxiety, and stress.

Design: A pre- and post-test crossover design.

Setting: An urban outpatient cancer center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: A convenience sample of 20 patients, aged 20-68 years (X = 38.5), receiving treatment at a BMT clinic.

Methods: Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Therapy-Related Symptom Checklist, and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Index, and provided salivary cortisol samples. After pretesting, individuals were assigned to either a wait list or intervention. Individuals in the wait-list group received the usual treatment before completing the post-test measures. Individuals in the intervention group participated in a one-hour art-making session, after which they completed post-test measures. Participants then crossed over to the other group.

Main Research Variables: Art making, stress, state anxiety, and therapy-related symptoms.

Findings: Therapy-related symptom concerns for the intervention group at post-test were significantly lower than at pretest; no change ocurred in the control group. The salivary cortisol levels were significantly lower at post-test in the intervention and control groups. No change occurred in the anxiety levels of participants in the intervention and control groups. The study hypothesis was partially supported.

Conclusions: Art making decreased therapy-related symptoms (e.g., feeling sluggish, difficulty concentrating). Use of more physiologic indices to measure stress and replication on a larger sample are suggested.

Implications for Nursing: Individuals receiving BMT may benefit from participation in art-making interventions. Art making is easy to implement in a clinic setting and allows for positive interactions between nurses and patients.

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