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Feature Article Landmark Study Shows Patients Appreciate Art Experiences

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Integrating the arts and health care has long been a part of the culture at Samaritan Health Services. For more than a decade, local artists have worked in health care settings with patients, employees and visitors as part of Samaritan’s Arts in Health initiative (also encompassing a program known as ArtsCare in partnership with the Corvallis Arts Center).

Although it was long believed that exposure to the arts enhanced a patient’s overall experience in the hospital, Samaritan was able to document this connection in a scientific study appearing in the upcoming issue of the professional journal “Arts and Health.”

The study, one of the first of its kind, analyzed thousands of patient satisfaction surveys from Samaritan-affiliated hospitals, which included a special question about whether patients had been exposed to the arts while in the hospital.

“What we found is that when patients were satisfied with the hospital’s arts-enhanced environment — either at the bedside with an art project, through listening to musicians, walking through the healing garden or just enjoying the art displays around the hospital — they were significantly more likely to recommend the hospitals to others,” said Jana Kay Slater, PhD, a research psychologist and co-author of the study. “If arts programs improve the patient’s experience, they are not a luxury, but rather an integral part of operating a great hospital.”

Funding for the art programs at Samaritan comes from a combination of sources, including philanthropy and the organization’s operating budget.

“The Arts in Health program is all about fostering a healing environment for our patients, employees and visitors,” said Julie Manning, vice president of marketing and public relations, who chairs Samaritan’s Arts in Health advisory committee. “It is gratifying to see the positive difference the program is making for all those involved.”

Samaritan’s Arts in Health program includes harp music, origami, basket weaving, paper collage, drumming, clay work as well as activities featuring a multitude of other mediums.