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Activating Empathy Through Art in Cancer Communities

Overview of attention for article published in AMA Journal of Ethics, July 2022
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Activating Empathy Through Art in Cancer Communities
Published in
AMA Journal of Ethics, July 2022
DOI 10.1001/amajethics.2022.590
Pubmed ID

The Aesthetics of Health (AOH) undergraduate visual art studies course at the University of Texas at Austin aimed to enhance art students' awareness of cancer's impact not only medically but also socially, emotionally, financially, and spiritually and to examine how this experience might impact students' artwork, capacity for empathy, and connection to audience. During the spring 2021 semester, the AOH course instructors employed assorted pedagogical methods, including art, illness narrative, and community engagement, in special sessions led by professors, community practice artists, and cancer experts, respectively, as well as oral storytelling by those with lived experience of cancer (ie, cancer patients, posttreatment survivors, and loved ones). For the course's final project, the 15 student-artists created self-selected media works combining health and activism and displayed them in public spaces, including online. Student-artists took the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire during the first and last weeks of the course and provided feedback. Two group interviews were also held with cancer storytellers following their participation. Student-artists' average score on the Toronto Empathy Questionnaire increased from 52.46 at pretest to 55.38 at posttest. Student-artists and storytelling participants also reported having positive experiences. The AOH course's social practice approach encouraged student-artists to realize new ideas and relationships and modestly increased their capacity for empathy. The AOH framework demonstrates promise for increasing empathy through the arts in other educational, clinical, and artistic institutions. Further research is needed with larger sample sizes to measure the impact of the course and to demonstrate its potential for addressing burnout and moral distress.

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Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 9 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 9 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 2 22%
Researcher 2 22%
Student > Master 1 11%
Unknown 4 44%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Nursing and Health Professions 1 11%
Psychology 1 11%
Medicine and Dentistry 1 11%
Unknown 6 67%