Testing the Efficacy of a Creative-Arts Intervention With Family Caregivers of Patients With Cancer


  • Sandra M. Walsh,

  • Susan Culpepper Martin,

  • Lee A. Schmidt

  • Sandra M. Walsh, RN, PhD, Lambda Chi, Professor, Barry University School of Nursing, Research Clinician, South Miami Hospital; Susan Culpepper Martin, BSN, ARNP, CNM, Beta Tau, Doctoral Student, University of Miami School of Nursing; Lee A. Schmidt, RN, PhD, Beta Tau & Delta Beta-at-large, Assistant Professor, University of Miami School of Nursing; all in Miami, FL. Partial funding was received from the University of Miami General Research Support Award, 2002-2003. The leadership and assistance provided by Dr. Sharlene Weiss, School of Medicine; research assistants, Marianela Borsten, Lynette Huber, and Amparo Roco; University of Miami BSN students Margaret Fears-Lewis, Angela Romack, and Shelley Chen; inpatient unit coordinator, Miriam Hernandez; and Director of Volunteer Services at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Sue Radcliffe are acknowledged. Correspondence to Dr. Walsh, 11300 Northeast 2nd Avenue, Miami Shores, FL 33161-6695. E-mail: swalsh@mail.barry.edu


Purpose: To test the efficacy of a creative arts intervention (CAI) with family caregivers of patients with cancer.

Design: A pre-posttest quasi-experimental design, with participation in the CAI as the independent variable and stress, anxiety, and emotions as the dependent variables.

Method: The 6-month study was implemented at a regional cancer treatment center with family caregivers. The CAI consisted of several creative arts activities designed for delivery at the bedside.

Findings: Forty family caregivers reported significantly reduced stress, lowered anxiety, and increased positive emotions following CAI participation.

Conclusions: The CAI promoted short-term well being in this family caregiver sample. Caregivers also increased positive communication with cancer patients and health care providers while expressing delight over their handmade pieces of art.