by Tara Bahrampour
Arts in medicine was established as a field in the 1990s, and studies have shown that exposure to the arts improves the health of older people with dementia, children with asthma, and patients with hematological malignancies and other ailments. But instituting it as a national program takes it to a new level, said Johanna Rian, program director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine. “I think it’s a fairly brilliant forward move,” she said. “Can art replace medicine? No. Can it enhance it? Absolutely…While there is no direct evidence showing that participation in the arts improves health, the theory behind it is compelling, said Paul Scanlon, medical director at Mayo’s Center for Humanities in Medicine. “There’s a theory about gaming pain receptors,” he said, adding that distracting people with exposure to the arts can block the signals that mediate pain.
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Context: The mission of the Mayo Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine is to integrate the arts, history and ethics in the medical environment, supporting the Mayo ideal that the needs of the patient come first. The Center's programs and research in the humanities serve patients, families, caregivers and the larger community, promoting the compassionate delivery of healthcare. Paul Scanlon, M.D, is medical director at the Mayo Clinic Dolores Jean Lavins Center for Humanities in Medicine. As medical director, Dr. Scanlon leads programs in medical humanities. He and his colleagues incorporate programs based in the arts and diverse expressions of human culture into the healing environment of Mayo Clinic. These programs are intended to improve patient experience and outcomes, increase employee satisfaction and prevent burnout, and improve learner outcomes, especially communications skills. Research efforts seek to measure the effectiveness of these programs.
Contact: Emily Blahnik