Art Research in Australian Catholic Hospitals

By Lindsay Farrell, Paula Schulz and Monica Nebauer.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: June 20, 2016 $US5.00

This paper reports on the Art Research in Catholic Health project ARCH (2011–2015) within Catholic Healthcare in Australia. Catholic Healthcare accounts for seventy-five hospitals and 550 residential and community aged care services and comprises the largest non-government not-for-profit grouping of health and aged care service in Australia. Ten percent of Australians are cared for in Catholic hospitals or are residing in Catholic aged care facilities. Catholic Healthcare aims to address the spiritual aims of the "Dignity of the Human Person," "Service," the "Common Good," and "Preference for the Poor and Under-Served." The history of art in Catholic Hospitals has a rich history spanning over 1000 years. This study was aimed to measure what is the impact of art on the spiritual wellbeing, sense of meaning and purpose of the hospital patients, visitors, and staff in a Catholic Hospital. The ARCH Study design involved both quantitative survey and qualitative focus groups with over one hundred twenty patients, visitors, and staff. The surveys and focus groups were analysed and this paper reports on the seven major themes that emerged from the data. The study showed that the position and size of art affects its visibility and access, that art motivates patients’ recovery to health, that art is therapeutic in helping patients with illness and pain, that art assists patients and visitors to orientate to the environment, that art assists patients, visitors, and staff to connect with others, that art draws the viewer into a different space and time and that art invites the viewer to experience a sense of transcendence and solace to the spirit. Each of the themes is a response to the research question: What is the impact of art on the spiritual well-being, sense of meaning, and purpose of hospital patients, visitors, and staff?

Keywords: Art, Hospitals

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 11, Issue 4, December, 2016, pp.11-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: June 20, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 689.979KB)).

Lindsay Farrell

Associate Professor, School of Arts Brisbane, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Paula Schulz

Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Monica Nebauer

Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia