Art and Health Care

Well-being -- that's the theme of the UC Health Women's Center Art Show that runs through the end of 2015.

The Show and the Center recognize in visual art an effective ally for wellness and health care. Health care organizations around the world are seeing the connection between art and healing. Many US medical schools, including a pioneering program at Harvard Medical School, have courses where medical students study paintings in museums to sharpen observational, diagnostic and problem-solving skills. "Integrative" health care, including an innovative center at UC Health, thinks holistically about the patient's body/mind/spirit. 

Art is a good fit with integrative care because it encourages a whole-person involvement in the patient care experience. Studies show that art in hospitals, especially nature art, calms patients who see in art a health care setting that is more connected to natural and humanistic environments that relieve stress and fear.

The right art in a hospital room (especially if the patient has a choice in its selection or even making) says "you are a person" and counterbalances necessary technology and medical equipment that says "you are a patient". Consider the room with the colored paper cutout collage created by a group of children who also happen to be patients. It can make a difference for the makers and the viewers.

We can get used to conversation about American health care reform where themes of politics and law predominate.  In the meantime, there is another narrative to listen to, to see--one about how integrating art and patient care helps people heal,  how art and wellness are part of prevention, and how the direction of change is moving beyond traditional silos of thought and seeing interdisciplinary pathways to the healing arts.

"Redwing Blackbird" by Paula Kraus at "Well-being" Show.

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