Cancer has always been a complex health condition to treat, and the advancements in alternative and complementary therapies have captured professionals’ attention (Singh & Chaturvedi, 2015). Hanson, Schroeter, Hanson, Asmus, and Grossman (2013) explored the subject of complementary and alternative therapies in the form of photographic art, which may help patients get the most benefit from natural surroundings. The purpose of their research was identifying cancer patients’ preferences for viewing pieces of photography art in hospital settings in order to evaluate whether the impact of such art can be positive. Through the use of Han’s and Nightingale’s theoretical frameworks, Hanson et al. (2013) implemented a qualitative and quantitative analysis of reports provided by “146 hospitalized patients who were asked to view photographs via computers and complete a five-instrument electronic survey” (p. 339).
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After conducting a literature review on the use of photography art as a complementary and alternative therapy for cancer patients, Hanson et al. (2013) formed several questions for research. For instance, the researchers wanted to answer the question of whether patients like viewing photographs or what were their general predispositions to viewing photographic art. Hanson et al. (2013) wanted to determine what category of photographs was the most preferred and which ones were rejected. Also, the same questions were asked regarding specific photographs rather than categories. Lastly, it should be mentioned that the researchers wanted to determine the most preferred type of delivery formats that can be used by patients to view photographs. All of these questions were prompted by the emerging popularity of alternative therapies to help patients overcome the psychological challenges that come with cancer and chemotherapy.
The study’s design is complex since it used qualitative, exploratory, post-test descriptive, and single-group design to complement the use of qualitative data gathered from survey questions. To conduct the evaluation of participants’ responses to different examples of photographic art, a DVD of sixty photographs was created. Each DVD included samples of different photograph categories such as animals, landscapes, flowers, entertainment, landmarks, and so on (Hanson et al., 2013).
By using convenience sampling, the researchers recruited ninety hospitalized patients from the Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Initially, one hundred and forty-six patients were eligible for participation; however, sixty-six of them did not participate due to several reasons such as increased illness, refusal, or other limitations (Hanson et al., 2013). For the scope of the study, ninety participants is a sufficient sample; however, there is a limitation in terms of not including perspectives of severely ill patients. Key measures used for the analysis and collection of relevant data during the research included demographic and descriptive information, performance status, socioeconomic status, quality of life, and fatigue.
The research procedure involved several steps. After being approved by the hospital’s management, potential participants were invited for data collection. Research assistants set up laptops on participants’ bedside table and stayed quiet in the room during the experiment. As participants viewed all sixty photographs, they were asked to complete the Visual Arts Research Survey via a secure survey site, Qualtrics (Hanson et al., 2013). Also, two open-ended questions were asked to complete data collection. When it comes to analysis, the researchers used SPSS version 17 for extracting and securing information. Qualitative analysis and descriptive statistics were used to evaluate data collected from respondents’ answers to questions.
During their research, Hanson et al. (2013) identified several limitations. For example, patients’ acuity levels were the most problematic for the study because many of them were too sick to participate. This means that the study was ineffective in determining what pieces of photographic art will ill patients prefer. Unfortunately, this limitation is impossible to overcome because forcing severely ill patients to participate is considered unethical. Another limitation of the study was associated with research tools. For instance, nurses trained to collect data were regularly unavailable; also, there were some issues with Internet access among laptops used for data collection. Such issues can be solved with preliminary planning. It is recommended first to recruit nurses whose schedules will not interfere with data collection. Also, wireless Internet solutions can be used to ensure that laptops have access to the web when needed. Mentioning study limitations is important because acknowledging possible mistakes allows for making improvements in the future.
Both qualitative and quantitative data were revealed as a result of data collection and analysis. An overwhelming majority (96%) of participants reported looking at photographs that they were presented with. Also, when asked about whether they would like to have some of the photographs in their rooms or at home, the mean response was 8.21 from 10 in total. The most liked photographs included the images of the lake sunset, waterfalls, rivers, and trees. When it comes to the most rejected photographs, the amusement park, the vegetable table at farmer’s market, and kayakers. These findings show that the views of nature were more calming to participants, which is linked to the question that the researchers wanted to answer. Additionally, research participants had an overall positive attitude to photographs presented to them, especially those that depicted landscapes. This conclusion can be made from them making comments about wanting to see some of the photos at hospitals, their homes, and rooms. Some quotes from patients included, “I think photos would add a great deal to the hospital rooms” or “I think photos inpatient rooms would be a wonderful asset” (Hansen et al., 2013, p. 342). Overall, the researchers answered all questions they posed at the beginning of the study and revealed that photographic art could serve as a beneficial alternative and complementary therapy for improving cancer patients’ mental well-being.
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The study conducted by Hansen et al. (2013) is an interesting contribution to research on alternative and complementary therapies used among cancer patients. While the use of photography was initially questioned, the results of questionnaires and open-ended questions revealed that a vast majority of cancer patients saw the potential in observing photographic art. Based on this positive outcome, it is possible to use the method in real life because placing images of natural landscapes, which were the most preferred by participants, is an easy and cost-efficient change that any hospital can make. The research findings accounted for questions that researchers initially developed. Overall, it should be mentioned that Hansen et al.’s (2013) study gave considerable support for the use of interesting alternative therapies to help patients diagnosed with complicated conditions. Since the response was positive, a similar intervention can be considered for helping nurses with their burnout, especially because printed photographs of nature placed around hospital rooms will also be visible to staff.
Hanson, H., Schroeter, K., Hanson A., Asmus, K., & Grossman, A. (2013). Preferences for photographic art among hospitalized patients with cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 40(4), E337-E345. Web.
Singh, P., & Chaturvedi, A. (2015). Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Cancer Pain Management: A Systematic Review. Indian Journal of Palliative Care, 21(1), 105-115.