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Preferences for Photographic Art Among Hospitalized Patients With Cancer

Hazel Hanson

Kathryn Schroeter

Andrew Hanson

Kathryn Asmus

Azure Grossman

art, hospitalized patients
ONF 2013, 40(4), E337-E345. DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.E337-E345

Purpose/Objectives: To determine the preferences of patients with cancer for viewing photographic art in an inpatient hospital setting and to evaluate the impact of viewing photographic art.

Design: Quantitative, exploratory, single-group, post-test descriptive design incorporating qualitative survey questions.

Setting: An academic medical center in the midwestern United States.

Sample: 80 men (n = 44) and women (n = 36) aged 19-85 years (X = 49) and hospitalized for cancer treatment.

Methods: Participants viewed photographs via computers and then completed a five-instrument electronic survey.

Main Research Variables: Fatigue, quality of life, performance status, perceptions of distraction and restoration, and content categories of photographs.

Findings: Ninety-six percent of participants enjoyed looking at the study photographs. The photographs they preferred most often were lake sunset (76%), rocky river (66%), and autumn waterfall (66%). The most rejected photographs were amusement park (54%), farmer's market vegetable table (51%), and kayakers (49%). The qualitative categories selected were landscape (28%), animals (15%), people (14%), entertainment (10%), imagery (10%), water (7%), spiritual (7%), flowers (6%), and landmark (3%). Some discrepancy between the quantitative and qualitative sections may be related to participants considering water to be a landscape.

Conclusions: The hypothesis that patients' preferences for a category of photographic art are affected by the psychophysical and psychological qualities of the photographs, as well as the patients' moods and characteristics, was supported.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses can play an active role in helping patients deal with the challenges of long hospital stays and life-threatening diagnoses through distraction and restoration interventions such as viewing photographic images of nature.

Knowledge Translation: Nurses can use photographic imagery to provide a restorative intervention during the hospital experience. Photographic art can be used as a distraction from the hospital stay and the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis. Having patients view photographs of nature is congruent with the core nursing values of promoting health, healing, and hope.

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