Purpose: In contrast to art-therapy, little is known about the role of art-making for people who have been diagnosed with cancer, and even less is known about program-based art-making. This study explored the experience of participation in a visual art-making program for people during and after cancer treatment in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Method: A longitudinal, qualitative, single cohort study was undertaken. Eight women diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer participated in weekly art-making sessions over eight weeks, facilitated by two professional artists. Data were collected before, during and after the sessions by interviews and group discussions. The Energy Restoration Framework was used to document and analyse the benefits of participation in terms of the a priori themes of: Expansive, Belonging, Nurturing and Purposeful.
Results: The four a priori themes were retained and an additional attribute of an energy restoration activity called Stimulating was added, along with sub-themes, which broadened and deepened understanding of the art-making experience within cancer care.
Conclusions: Involvement in an activity that was expansive, new, beautiful and fascinating was highly valued in addition to the appreciation for being with and belonging to a supportive and accepting group facilitated by dynamic artists. There is much scope for continued research and promotion of art-making programs as an adjunct to cancer treatment.