The effect of creative psychological interventions on psychological outcomes for adult cancer patients: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials

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Abstract

Objective:

This systematic review examined the effectiveness of creative psychological interventions (CPIs) for adult cancer patients. In particular, the findings of randomised controlled trials of art, drama, dance/movement and music therapies on psychological outcomes were examined.

Methods:

The review yielded 10 original studies analysing data from a total of 488 patients. Data extraction and quality assessment were conducted by two independent reviewers.

Results:

Four of the papers focused on the use of art therapy, three studies used music therapy, one paper utilised dance therapy, one study used dance/movement therapy and the remaining paper used creative arts therapies, which was a combination of different art-based therapy approaches. Eight papers focused solely on breast cancer patients, and the remaining studies included mixed cancer sites/stages. The studies reported improvements in anxiety and depression, quality of life, coping, stress, anger and mood. However, few physical benefits of CPIs were reported; there was no significant impact of a CPI on physical aspects of quality of life, vigour-activity or fatigue-inertia or physical functioning. One study was assessed as high quality, seven studies were assessed as satisfactory and two studies were assessed to be of poorer quality.

Conclusions:

There is initial evidence that CPIs benefit adult cancer patients with respect to anxiety and depression, quality of life, coping, stress, anger and mood; there was no evidence to suggest that any one type of CPI was especially beneficial. However, more and better quality research needs to be conducted, particularly in the areas of drama and dance/movement therapies. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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