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The effect of creative psychological interventions on psychological outcomes for adult cancer patients: a systematic review of randomised controlled trialsObjective This systematic review examined the effectiveness of creative psychological interventions (CPIs) for adult cancer patients. In particular, the findings of randomised controlled trials of art, drama, dance/movement and music therapies on psychological outcomes were examined. Methods The review yielded 10 original studies analysing data from a total of 488 patients. Data extraction and quality assessment were conducted by two independent reviewers. Results Four of the papers focused on the use of art therapy, three studies used music therapy, one paper utilised dance therapy, one study used dance/movement therapy and the remaining paper used creative arts therapies, which was a combination of different art-based therapy approaches. Eight papers focused solely on breast cancer patients, and the remaining studies included mixed cancer sites/stages. The studies reported improvements in anxiety and depression, quality of life, coping, stress, anger and mood. However, few physical benefits of CPIs were reported; there was no significant impact of a CPI on physical aspects of quality of life, vigour-activity or fatigue-inertia or physical functioning. One study was assessed as high quality, seven studies were assessed as satisfactory and two studies were assessed to be of poorer quality. Conclusions There is initial evidence that CPIs benefit adult cancer patients with respect to anxiety and depression, quality of life, coping, stress, anger and mood; there was no evidence to suggest that any one type of CPI was especially beneficial. However, more and better quality research needs to be conducted, particularly in the areas of drama and dance/movement therapies.
Zen and the art of living mindfully: The health-enhancing potential of zen aestheticsAmidst the burgeoning enthusiasm for mindfulness in the West, there is a concern that the largely secular ‘de-contextualized’ way in which it is being harnessed is denuding it of its potential to improve health and well-being. As such, efforts are underway to ‘re-contextualize’ mindfulness, explicitly drawing on the wider framework of Buddhist ideas and practices in which it was initially developed. This paper aims to contribute to this, doing so by focusing on Zen Buddhism, and in particular on Zen aesthetic principles. The article concentrates on the seven principles identified by Hisamatsu (1971) in his classic text Zen and the Fine Arts: kanso (simplicity); fukinsei (asymmetry); koko (austere sublimity); shizen (naturalness); daisuzoku (freedom from routine); sei-jaku (tranquillity); and yūgen (profound grace). The presence of these principles in works of art is seen as reflecting and communicating insights that are central to Buddhism, such as non-attachment. Moreover, these principles do not only apply to the creation and appreciation of art, but have clear applications for treating health-related issues, and improving quality of life more generally. This paper makes the case that embodying these principles in their lives can help people enhance their psychosomatic well-being, and come to a truer understanding of the essence of mindful living.