A new group support therapy program for cancer patients employing a combination of art, meditation and other support mechanisms is being studied by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.
The goal of the "Live Better with the Uncertainty of Cancer" study, also known as Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy (MBAT), is to see if psychological stress and the severity of medical symptoms can be reduced, and the overall quality of life for cancer patients enhanced, explains principal investigator Daniel Monti, M.D., section chief of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and assistant professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.
"The therapy emphasizes creative expression and meditation as a means to not only reduce stress for these patients but to try to give them a positive outlook on a life that may not seem so rosy at the moment," said Dr. Monti, who is also director of the mind-body medicine program at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Participants need not have any previous art experience or training. "In fact, some of the participants who got the most benefit from the program felt they had little or no artistic skills or talents prior to entering," he said.
The study is supported by a $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Compl
ementary and Alternative Medicine, and is being conducted cooperatively by Jefferson's Department of Psychiatry, the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson and Jefferson's Center for Integrative Medicine. There are 47 cancer patients currently enrolled in the study. Researchers plan to enroll 114 patients over the course of the study.