gms | German Medical Science

27th German Cancer Congress Berlin 2006

German Cancer Society (Frankfurt/M.)

22. - 26.03.2006, Berlin

Effects of an art therapy for cancer patients – first results

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Heide Götze - Institut für Arbeits- und Sozialmedizin, Leipzig, Deutschland
  • Marianne Buttstädt - Institut für Arbeits- und Sozialmedizin, Leipzig
  • Susanne Singer - Institut für Arbeits- und Sozialmedizin, Leipzig
  • Ursula S. Böhler - Praxis für Tiefenpsych. Gestaltungstherapie Klinische Kunsttherapie, Heidelberg

27. Deutscher Krebskongress. Berlin, 22.-26.03.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocPO571

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

Published: March 20, 2006

© 2006 Götze et al.
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.



Background and objective: The acceptance of art therapeutic interventions for cancer patients is proved in many cases. However, there is only little scientific research into this topic. Goal of this study is the trial of an ad-hoc developed art therapy program for cancer patients in an ambulant setting. The intervention is based on a supportive approach connected with psychotherapeutic and communication promoting elements. The program phases gradually shift from a highly structured, primarily supportive style to free, autonomous designing with self-explorative aspects. At the end of the art therapy every participant creates a book in which individual topics of the disease coping can be dealt with. The influence of the intervention on the communications behavior constitutes the main focus of the concomitant research.

Design and methods: The effects of the art therapy are analysed with semi-structured interviews with a catalogue of questions (Mayring’s content analysis) and with the Family System Test (FAST). Only 3 of the 28 participants were male, 50% affected with breast cancer. The study is not completed yet.

Results: Normally, all those interested in the intervention were emotionally stressed, often lonely and motivated to become active. The analysis of the Family System Test shows that before beginning of the art therapy the relations structure of the family is unbalance rather and the emotional connection within the family is rather small.

All created books reflect the disease coping and the argument with the illness respectively. For the majority of the participants the book provides an opportunity to get into conversation with their personal environment. The analysis of the subjective therapy significances resulted in five domains of significance: emotional stabilization, broadening to the means of expression, personal growth, disease coping, communicative competence. A positive influence of the art therapy on the communications behavior can be noticed. However, the participants give priority to the regulation of their own emotional balance and to the development of resources.

Figure 1 [Fig. 1]