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Study demonstrates art therapy's effectiveness in pediatric asthma
Date:5/12/2010

In the first randomized trial of art therapy for asthma, National Jewish Health researchers found that children with persistent asthma enjoyed decreased anxiety and increased quality of life after seven weekly art-therapy sessions.

It can be a terrifying experience when an asthma attack closes down a child's airways and makes the simple act of breathing a life-threatening struggle. The fear and anxiety associated with an asthma attack can last long after the attack has subsided. The research, published online May 1, 2010 in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, reports that the art therapy showed benefits both during the therapy and for months afterward.

"Asthma impacts not only a child's physical well-being but also has a considerable effect on a child's quality of life and psychological development," said National Jewish Health Art Therapist Anya Beebe, MA. "Our study shows that art therapy for children with severe, chronic asthma is clearly beneficial. Our results were striking and persisted for months after treatment stopped."

In art therapy, patients create artwork that helps express their feelings about an illness, a trauma or medical concerns. The artwork can then serve as a starting point for discussions about these issues.

Researchers believe that creating art helps participants establish distance between themselves and their medical concerns. They learn to understand that they have a personal identity outside of their illness. It is believed to be particularly effective with children because they often do not have the adult capabilities to verbally articulate their emotions, perceptions, or beliefs, and often can more comfortably convey ideas in ways other than talking.

In the study at National Jewish Health, 22 children, ages 7 to 14, with persistent asthma were randomized to either an active art-therapy group or a control group. The children in the art-therapy group received 60-minute art-
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Contact: Adam Dormuth
dormutha@njhealth.org
303-398-1082
National Jewish Medical and Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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