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Art Does Not Treat Schizophrenia

Art Does Not Treat Schizophrenia

(ePharmaNews) – Psychiatrists believe that art is not solely a hobby, the creative operations used in arts can help patients understand and solve inner conflicts and grow a better sense of themselves. The recommendation for schizophrenic treatment have also adopted this concept, but a recent study done in the U.K challenged the current protocols as it found no benefits from group art therapy.

The study was published in BMJ and concluded that schizophrenic patients may enjoy painting and other artistic activities as entertaining hobbies, but it does not enhance their mental health and social impairments.

A team of researchers led by Imperial College London set out to examine the impact of group art therapy for people with schizophrenia compared with an active control treatment and standard care alone.

The study involved 417 people aged 18 or over with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Participants were split into three groups: 12 months of weekly group art therapy plus standard care; 12 months of weekly activity groups plus standard care; or standard care alone.
Art therapy patients were given access to a range of art materials and encouraged to use these to express themselves freely. Activity group patients were encouraged to take part in activities such as playing board games, watching and discussing DVDs, and visiting local cafes. The use of art materials was prohibited.

The researchers found no differences in global functioning and mental health symptoms between the three groups, and no differences in social functioning and satisfaction with care between art therapy and standard care groups.
Professor Mike Crawford, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial, said: “This research shows that many people with severe mental illness enjoy being creative, but being involved in activities alone does not seem to lead to improvements in mental health. Severe mental illness can reduce people's confidence in their abilities and their relationships with others and we need to find new ways to harness the arts to help people overcome these difficulties.”

Of course, these results may challenge the current protocols of treating schizophrenia, but it would never challenge the ability of art to change the inner-self image, if not of the patients, of anybody else.

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Prepared by: Basel AlJunaidy

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