What is the Role of the Arts in Medical Education and Patient Care? A Survey-based Qualitative Study
To inform medical education reform efforts, we systematically collected information on the level of arts and humanities engagement in our medical school community. Attitudes regarding incorporating arts and humanities-based teaching methods into medical education and patient care were also assessed. An IRB-approved survey was electronically distributed to all faculty, residents, fellows, and students at our medical school. Questions focused on personal practice of the arts and/or humanities, as well as perceptions of, and experience with formally incorporating these into medical teaching. Of 13,512 community members surveyed, 2,775 responded (21% overall response rate). A majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that medical education and patient care could be "enhanced" by the integration of the arts (67% and 74% respectively). There was enthusiastic support for the creation of a formal program in the arts at our medical school (72 %). Integration of the arts into medical education may have a role in improving the quality of medical training and would likely be well received by teachers and learners.
KeywordsArts Humanities Medical education Patient care
Linda Grover and Linda Kruse provided invaluable assistance with the IRB and survey. Encouragement and useful critiques of the survey design were provided by Drs. Ron Arky, Rafael Campo, Elizabeth Gaufberg, David S. Jones, Suzanne Koven, Amy Ship, Andrea Wershof Schwartz, and Lisa Wong.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
“All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”
Our study was approved by the Harvard University Faculty of Medicine committee on Human Studies. The CHS study number was M22408-101. Review date July 20, 2012. The status was exempt based on 45 CFR 46.101 (b) (2).
- Flexner, A. 2002. "Medical Education in the United States and Canada. From the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Bulletin Number Four, 1910." Bull World Health Organ 80 (7): 594–602Google Scholar
- Glatter, R. 2013. "Can Studying Art Help Medical Students become Better Doctors?" Forbes/Pharma & Healthcare. Accessed February 4, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2013/10/20/can-studying-art-help-medical-students-become-better-doctors/#6256068b4cdb.
- Haidet, P., J. Jarecke, N. E. Adams, H. L. Stuckey, M. J. Green, D. Shapiro, C. R. Teal, and D. R. Wolpaw. 2016. "A Guiding Framework to Maximise the Power of the Arts in Medical Education: A Systematic Review and Metasynthesis." Medical Education 50 (3): 320–331. https://doi.org/10.1111/medu.12925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- ———. 2016. "Can Incorporating Art into Medical Education Help Medical Students become Better Doctors?" Heart Views 17 (2): 77.Google Scholar
- Huang, J. T., S. D. Reynolds, B. DiGiovanni Evans, C. Zimmermann, C. J. Joyce, J. T. Katz, and E. Buzney. 2016. "Fine Arts Curriculum Improves Observational Skills of Dermatology Trainees: A Pilot Study." British Journal of Dermatology 175 (4): 815–817. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjd.14616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jones, D. S. 2014. "A Complete Medical Education Includes the Arts and Humanities." Virtual Mentor 16 (8): 636–641. https://doi.org/10.1001/virtualmentor.2014.16.08.msoc1-1408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Katz, J. T., and S. Khoshbin. 2014. "Can Visual Arts Training Improve Physician Performance?" Transactions of the American Clinical Climatological Assoc 125: 331–341.Google Scholar
- Mangione, S., C. Chakraborti, G. Staltari, R. Harrison, A. R. Tunkel, K. T. Liou, E. Cerceo et al. 2018. "Medical Students' Exposure to the Humanities Correlates with Positive Personal Qualities and Reduced Burnout: A Multi-Institutional U.S. Survey." Journal of General Internal Medicine 33 (5): 628-634. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-017-4275-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Naghshineh, S., J. P. Hafler, A. R. Miller, M. A. Blanco, S. R. Lipsitz, R. P. Dubroff, S. Khoshbin, and J. T. Katz. 2008. "Formal Art Observation Training Improves Medical Students' Visual Diagnostic Skills." Journal of General Internal Medicine 23 (7): 991–997. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-008-0667-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Nielsen, J. A., B. A. Zielinski, M. A. Ferguson, J. E. Lainhart, and J. S. Anderson. 2013. "An Evaluation of the Left-brain vs. Right-brain Hypothesis with Resting State Functional Connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging." PLOS One 8 (8): e71275. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ohry, A. 2003. "Physicians as Painters." Israel Medical Association Journal 5 (9): 681–684.Google Scholar
- Pories, Susan, Sachin Jain, and Gordon Harper. 2006. The Soul of a Doctor: Harvard Medical Students Face Life and Death. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin.Google Scholar
- Rutledge, R. H. 1979. "In Commemoration of Theodor Billroth on the 150th Anniversary of his Birth. Billroth I: His Surgical and Professional Accomplishments. Billroth II: His Personal Life, Ideas, and Musical Friendships." Surgery 86 (5): 672–693.Google Scholar
- Savitt, TL. 2002. Medical Readers' Theater. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.Google Scholar
- Williams, WC. 1996. The Collected Stories of William Carlos Williams. New York: New Directions.Google Scholar
- Wong, L. M. 2014. "Music and Medicine: Harnessing Discipline and Creativity." Virtual Mentor 16 (8): 648–651. https://doi.org/10.1001/virtualmentor.2014.16.08.mhst1-1408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar