An interdisciplinary team of University of Oregon research faculty, in collaboration with regional healthcare institution partners, have developed a long-term research team initiative titled, “The Role of Arts Programs in Fostering an Organizational Culture of Patient-Centered Care and an Environment of Healing in Hospitals and Hospices.”

This study is aimed at identifying the kinds of management policies and practices required for strategic implementation of arts programs to create an organizational culture of healing in hospital and hospice settings. Through social science inquiry and clinical research, this research agenda will produce both basic and applied research on the relationship among patient culture and health, arts programs designed to foster patient-centered care, and factors in organizational cultures of hospitals and hospices that contribute to an environment of healing.

Our long-term goal is to better understand what constitutes a “culture of healing” that transcends cultural boundaries and barriers to speak to the human condition at its deepest level among patients, families, staff, and the community at large.

Existing scholarship in cultural studies, cultural policy, and medical anthropology effectively demonstrate how “the arts” both express and influence “culture” as a way of being, a way of life. Although the arts in healthcare field is growing rapidly, there is a lack of research focused on the theoretical underpinnings and mechanisms of the relationship among arts programs, patient culture, and organizational culture in the healthcare environment. A significant gap exists in understanding how, why, and to what extent arts programs in healthcare settings both reflect and foster a patient-centered organizational culture.

The Arts in Healthcare Research Team will conduct several pilot study projects that will build on the existing body of research on arts and health, but will also serve to inform development of a theoretical framework within which the relationship among arts programs and an organizational culture of healing can be further tested.

As the project evolves, we envision expanding our team to include additional partner healthcare institutions in the I-5 corridor, extending from Portland to Eugene. As we continue to identify important research topics in arts and health, our discussions will focus on initiating, developing, and/or expanding research methodologies for future phases of this study in three areas: palliative care, cancer care, and pediatric care. At the national level, we will continue to participate in gatherings of Arts and Health leaders through both the Global Alliance for Arts and Health (formerly the Society for the Arts in Healthcare) and Americans for the Arts to help develop a strong network of scholars and practitioners in this field.