Stress and negative emotion are normative responses to cancer diagnosis and treatment, but approximately one-third of individuals coping with cancer experience the debilitating consequence of depressive disorders, which are linked to increased pain and fatigue and reduced quality of life and well-being of cancer survivors. A reported 25% to 60% of women develop chronic pain after BC treatment and chronic fatigue is reported in between 30-60% of survivors. Emotion processing has been associated with improved physical and psychological health in Breast Cancer survivors. Art Therapy interventions encourage emotion processing. Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves the use of visual art-making (drawing, painting, sculpting, collage, etc.) for expression and communication within a safe and supportive relationship, in a therapeutic setting. Art Therapy has been well documented in cancer settings to alleviate psychological symptoms and reduce physical complaints.
The study team, under the leadership of primary investigators Dr. Karen Weihs, MD from the University of Arizona and Dr. Johanna Czamanski-Cohen, PhD from the University of Haifa will accomplish the aims by conducting a trial of 240 Jewish and Arab women diagnosed with BC randomized to undergo one of 2 types of art making groups. We chose this design to be able to examine the effect of enhancing emotional processing on psychological and physiological health. The study will take place at the cancer centers of 2 study sites: Rabin Medical Center and Ziv Medical Center. The interventions will be administered by an experienced Art Therapist trained by the primary investigator Dr. Czamanski-Cohen who is an Art Therapy Professor.