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Forgetting the machine: Patients' experiences of engaging in artwork while on renal dialysis

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Patients on hospital haemodialysis spend many hours a week away from their home, undergoing a treatment that is time consuming and physically and mentally draining. Given the often unpleasant experience of dialysis, it is not surprising that art has been one of the possible interventions employed. This study investigates an art project led by a professional artist at the renal dialysis unit at York Hospital. Twelve patients involved in the project participated in semi-structured interviews. Our findings suggest that while 'absorbed' in art making, patients are for a time able to 'forget the dialysis machine' and the reality of their illness. The study finds that engagement in artwork is more than just a distraction from the uncomfortable experience of dialysis. Art making engages patients intellectually, creatively and socially. It gives purpose to the time on dialysis, a sense of contributing to a joint task and promotes social interaction.
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Keywords: art; creativity; dialysis; flow; wellbeing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: York St John University 2: York Hospital 3: York Teaching Hospital

Publication date: April 8, 2011

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  • The Journal of Applied Arts and Health serves a wide community of artists, researchers, practitioners and policy-makers evidencing the effectiveness of the interdisciplinary use of arts in health and arts for health. It provides a forum for the publication and debate within an interdisciplinary field of arts in healthcare and health promotion. The journal defines 'health' broadly which includes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, occupational, social and community health.
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