It’s notorious difficult to trace measurable health outcomes to arts interventions in healthcare design. Participatory art programs and art therapy, on the other hand, are regularly evaluated in terms of their beneficial outcomes.
I do want to draw a connection between participatory programs and art design in order to make the claim that “arts in health” - the term that encompasses all the many interventions - must play an essential role in healthcare delivery.
But first, I want to highlight one aspect of visual art design that has so far been neglected by the current scholarship, as well by the most accepted professional guidelines: its ability to foster social connection.
Before getting to how that can happen, take a few minutes with this radio story about fostering social connections among a group of mothers-to-be who make their medical visits together, a practice called “centering.”
The model has improved birth outcomes for the 98 women who have completed the program over the past two years.
One associated physician also believes that her practice has improved, with a greater understanding of her patients culture and values. This patient-centered approach to healthcare delivery and healthcare design starts by seeing the patient as a whole person, with dignity.