Health & Wellness Research



A study was conducted in a psych ward to determine the relationship between art and patient agitation. Three distinct types of art were introduced to the psych unit lounge: abstract non-representational, abstract representational, and realistic nature.


Nurses were then asked to observe patient behavior while data on the use of an anti-anxiety PRN (as needed) medication was collected.


The study demonstrated that patients were calmer and that less anti-anxiety medication was prescribed as different types of art were displayed. The study further suggested that annual savings in that particular psych ward of $27,000 when images of realistic nature were displayed, $7,000 when the abstract representational images (nature-based) were displayed, and $4,000 when abstract (non-representational art) art was present.


—Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, June 2011.



"There is a great deal of evidence that art can have a therapeutic value in hospitals. Carefully chosen, the shapes, colours and atmosphere created by paintings, murals, sculptures and installations have a beneficial effect on patients, being stimulating, soothing or by creating an appropriate ‘feel’ for an area.


Hospital benefits from works of art which not only create a more pleasant environment but also helps people to locate themselves by giving them ‘landmarks’ within the hospital."



—Art and The Great Western Hospital, Swindon & Marlborough NHS Trust


"Throughout time, art has reached out to the human soul and touched the spirit of the beholder. Its ability to provide solace, inspiration, and hope makes it an indispensable element of the total health care environment."


—The Use Of Art In A Healthcare Setting by Kathy Hathorn



Patients who had grown accustomed to receiving their outpatient chemotherapy treatments in a drab, sterile environment were taken aback when beautiful, New York City-themed murals seemingly appeared overnight! The artwork has truly transformed the environment of care. Many patients might feel uncomfortable in the unfamiliar environment of the hospital, but the familiar images of our city help them to feel right at home.


—Splashes of Hope, Angela Salerni, Mount Sinai Medical Center Division Administrator, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology



Art has been used to enhance the quality of care by positively impacting patient, staff and family perceptions. Today, almost every hospital invests in Art-programs, because we now have research to show that not only can Art improve the image of the hospital, but it can, in fact, aid in healing.


—The Foundation For Photo/Art in Hospitals



The integration of the arts into the patient experience has a positive impact on health outcomes. The arts aid in physical, mental, and emotional recovery by relieving anxiety and decreasing a patient’s perception of pain. In an atmosphere where a sense of control is often lost or minimized, the arts serve as a therapeutic and healing tool, reducing stress and loneliness, lessening pain and the need for pain medication, reducing the length of hospital stays, and improving compliance with physician recommendations. This translates into substantial financial savings for both patients and health organizations.


—Society for the Arts in Healthcare



"The pieces were grouped with calming, sweeping landscapes in pretreatment areas, and community-based pieces in postoperative spaces to support integration back into the individual’s community. Regional landscapes—like coastal views, marshes, and farmland—were featured as well as local imagery, urban landscapes, historical architectural photographs, and aerial views of the surrounding campus. The use of art connected historical architectural artifacts with new features and provided a connection between past and present. The art can bring someone out of their own thoughts and spark a conversation between two patients. Sharing their stories may connect individuals at a time when they may feel alone or isolated."


—Healthcare Design Magazine



Researchers from John Hopkins University in Baltimore Maryland discovered that showing nature pictures and playing relaxing sounds at a patient’s bed is enough to reduce the feeling of pain for many patients.


—Ulrich (2009) and Hathorn and Nanda (2008)



Dr. Noah Lechtzin, from the department of medicine at JHU, improved his cancer patient’s experience, by decreasing their pain level, during a bone marrow aspiration procedure. In his research, he concluded that nature scenes and natural acoustic sounds such as gentle wind, moving water and birds singing had a particularly soothing effect on his patients. His patients experienced a significant lower level of anxiety, pain perception and recovered much faster after their procedure.


—JHU research, Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2003



The new field of neuroaesthetics - in which brain scans are employed to study neurological reactions to perceived beauty and other aesthetic phenomena - is opening another front.


—Ridenour, Annette, Transforming The Healthcare Experience Through the Arts, (2009)



Dr. Zeki, of University College London, led a study in neuroimaging designed to investigate the neural correlates of beauty. During the study, when shown beautiful paintings, these participants elicited increased activity in the orbito-frontal cortex which is the area of the brain involved in emotion and reward. The participants experienced a decrease in motor cortex activity demonstrating a reduction in stress hormones and a significant decrease in pulse and heart rate.


—Costandi, Moheb. “Beauty and the Brain’, Seed September (2008)