206650 A Window of Pain: American Indian cancer patient and survivor drawings

Monday, November 9, 2009

Felicia Schanche Hodge, DrPH , School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Agnes Attakai, MPA , Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Tracy Line Itty, MPH , School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Briana Anisko, MPH , School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Pain can be a symptom of cancer and it can be a result of cancer treatment. Pain can also be difficult to convey to others, especially to healthcare providers. Researchers, developing a cancer symptom management intervention among 400 Southwest American Indians, were provided “pictures of pain,” individual drawings offered by cancer patients and survivors during focus groups. These pictures opened a window into the experience of pain, reflected through the eyes of the study's participant.

Twelve focus group sessions (N= 85) held at four sites (reservation, urban setting, and hospital/clinic) elicited information from American Indian cancer patients and survivors. In addition to verbal communication, participants offered drawings to explain their pain during the cancer experience. Pain was described as instruments of sharp pins, fire, and knives. Other describe pain as sorrowful, breaking the emotions, and taking away the day.

This paper examines these patients/survivor drawings within the context of history – in terms of ledger art, expression of storytelling, and creative expression. As a communication tool, art can bridge a gap and may provide greater explanatory constructs than verbal descriptors. Also art as therapy is an important tool.

Drawings that allow us to see the pain that American Indian patients bear, provides a window into their experience. It also provides a therapeutic exercise that can be healing to the patient. Improving communication through the milieu of art expression is an important tool – one which must not be ignored when cancer patients presents this window to the world.

Learning Objectives:
1) To identify art as a potential communication tool. 2) To identify the value of art in healing, communication, and expression.

Keywords: American Indians, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: wrote proposal, designed intervention, analyzed data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.