gms | German Medical Science

27th German Cancer Congress Berlin 2006

German Cancer Society (Frankfurt/M.)

22. - 26.03.2006, Berlin

Research in art therapy with cancer patients: Concepts and methods

Meeting Abstract

Search Medline for

27. Deutscher Krebskongress. Berlin, 22.-26.03.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocIS043

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: March 20, 2006

© 2006 Gruber.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



For several years now, clinical experience has shown that art therapies offer various opportunities for cancer patients. These include improving their ability to express their feelings and therefore their perception of themselves, experiencing specific and accompanied relaxation, reducing pain, or working on their body image. These forms of therapy motivate the patients to be more active in their recovery process. Research has already been carried out concerning the different types of art therapy. These results show the effectiveness of these specific methods of therapy on various parameters, such as quality of life, anxiety and depression, coping with the illness, pain, etc., in a quantitative manner. Based on the literature, it is possible to ascertain that art therapies have a wide range of effects. The therapeutic effectiveness of visual arts interventions (painting, therapeutic modelling) have been described in several individual cases. Through encouraging creativity, it is possible to assist the self-regulation of the human psyche on several levels. The research in music therapy in oncology encompasses a complete spectrum of evidence based research, from many descriptions of individual cases and expert opinions to randomised controlled studies and meta-analyses. The centre of interest has often been research questions regarding receptive therapy strategies. There are also a few studies showing the positive effects of dance therapy on quality of life and the process of coping with cancer. The current state of knowledge also shows that there has been only little research on the specific effects of the different types of art therapy with different groups of patients. Differential questions regarding the individual therapy forms, as well as in comparison with other psychological therapy methods have barely been clarified. As a result there have been, until now, no clear criteria according to which it can be decided which form of art therapy is appropriate for which patient. It therefore seems necessary to carry out studies to compare the various forms of art therapy.