A randomized trial to test the effectiveness of art therapy for children with asthma.J Allergy Clin Immunol 2010; 126(2):263-6, 266.e1JA
Art therapy has been used to help children cope with chronic illness but has not been specifically tested with children who have asthma.
To test an art therapy intervention in a randomized controlled trial in children with asthma.
Twenty-two children with asthma were randomized to an active art therapy or wait-list control group. Those in the active art therapy group participated in 60-minute art therapy sessions once a week for 7 weeks. Sessions included specific art therapy tasks designed to encourage expression, discussion, and problem-solving in response to the emotional burden of chronic illness. Measures taken at baseline, immediately after, and 6 months after the final art therapy session included the Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale applied to the Person Picking an Apple from a Tree assessment, the parent and child versions of the Pediatric Quality of Life Asthma Module, and the Beck Youth Inventories. Those children assigned to the wait-list control group completed all evaluations at the same intervals as the children receiving art therapy but did not receive the art therapy interventions.
Score changes from baseline to completion of art therapy indicated (1) improved problem-solving and affect drawing scores; (2) improved worry, communication, and total quality of life scores; and (3) improved Beck anxiety and self concept scores in the active group relative to the control group. At 6 months, the active group maintained some positive changes relative to the control group including (1) drawing affect scores, (2) the worry and quality of life scores, and (3) the Beck anxiety score. Frequency of asthma exacerbations before and after the 6-month study interval did not differ between the 2 groups.
This was the first randomized trial demonstrating that children with asthma receive benefit from art therapy that includes decreased anxiety and increased quality of life.