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S. Prins

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    OS20 - Patient Connectivity Goes Mainstream (ID 32)

    • Event: e-Health 2018 Virtual Meeting
    • Type: Oral Session
    • Track: Health Business Process
    • Presentations: 1
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      OS20.02 - BC Cancer Agency: Online Art Therapy Groups (ID 329)

      S. Prins, BC Cancer Agency, Provincial Health Services Authority; Vancouver/CA

      • Abstract
      • Slides

      Purpose/Objectives: Art therapy allows patients the opportunity to express themselves in a new way. It is also an intervention that patients find relaxing and empowering, and it may even alleviate symptoms that cancer patients experience. Working in a busy cancer centre, finding space to host art therapy sessions is a challenge. Cancer patients may not be able to attend support groups as they may live in rural areas, lack energy, or not want to access support from a cancer centre. provides an online platform for hosting art therapy groups. These groups bring participants from across the country together to receive emotional support.

      Methodology/Approach: In 2012, BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) began collaborating with art therapists with expertise in digital art therapy across Canada. Together they began experimenting with different methods for creating art and meeting online. BCCA created an online platform for online groups called CancerChatCanada, which provided a forum for groups to meet online in a secure chat room, where participants would discuss the art that they had created. In 2013, a pilot group of international art therapists and health care professionals piloted BCCA’s first online art therapy group for young adults with cancer. From there, BCCA began hosting art therapy groups on CancerChatCanada (now CancerChatCanada at de Souza Institute.) Each group consists of 10 weekly sessions with an art assignment given each week. Participants create their art work with whatever tools they have available (including online art-making programs), then submit photographs of their work. Photos are compiled and sent in a document to the group members and the art therapist facilitates a discussion of the art while in the chat room.

      Finding/Results: From 2015-2017, five art therapy groups took place on CancerChatCanada, and plans are to continue running two 10-week groups per year. The presentation at e-health will also review findings of patient satisfaction surveys and program evaluation data. Participants in the online art therapy group bond quickly. Many have shared how grateful they are for the opportunity to participate in an art therapy group (since they live in a rural area) and meet others who share this experience. One participant stated, “While art therapy was outside of the box for me, it was successful in creating an important connection to other people with cancer. The discussions generated by the projects helped to address real fears, frustrations and questions that were common to all of us. The resulting moral support was invaluable.”

      Conclusion/Implications/Recommendations: Art therapy is an effective form of support for people with cancer. However, art therapists are challenged to find spaces to work in health care centres, and many cancer patients have difficulty accessing face-to-face support services. CancerChatCanada is an innovative and effective way to provide art therapy services to cancer patients across the country.

      140 Character Summary: Art therapy groups for cancer patients hosted in chatrooms

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