Arts-based intervention in hospice caregivers

Arts-based intervention in hospice caregivers

International literature and experience suggest that arts-based encounters can be effective inreducing stress and burnout in health care workers. Are these principles universal? Are they asapplicable and effective in resource-constrained situations in Africa as in other parts of the world?

We describe the impact of creative and arts-based encounters on a group of hospice caregivers atSouth Coast Hospice in KwaZulu Natal. An experienced facilitator built a caring and trusting relationship with the participants over a three month period through a variety of means, including a singing and songwriting intervention specifically designed to empower and give voice to the hospice caregivers, most of whom were Zulu women. We documented the process through several rounds of interviews, extensive field notes, and audio recordings. This article is a reflection on the experience and draws from the interviews, correspondence among researchers, field notes, and a performance piece written by the facilitator one year after completion of the study.

We found that the songwriting and other creative activities of the engagement provided affirmation and acknowledgment of the caregivers as well as an opportunity to release stress, grief, and pain. They experienced changes in terms of hope and freedom both for themselves and their patients. The conceptual themes that emerged from the interviews with the caregivers were interpreted in terms of their inherent cultural assets, a release of agency, a sense of revelation, and transformation.

The expressive arts can have a significantly beneficial effect on hospice workers and their patients, and clinical engagement can be enhanced through creative encounters, even in resource-constrainedsituations. If such creative processes were to be promoted among a wider group of health workers,daily routine work in health care could be not just a repetition of well-rehearsed utilitarian rituals but rather a series of creative and transformative encounters.

Rank: 118
First Author: Repar
Outcome: Stress,Burnout,Intervention Experience,Confidence
Outcome p-value: Stress:●, Burnout:●, Intervention Experience:●, Confidence:●
Intervention Category: Reflection and Relaxation
Time per Employee (hours): No time specified.
D&B Study Quality Rating: 5
Reviewer Confidence: 1
Country: South Africa
Study Design Type: Qualitative
Materials Available to Implement: Intervention outlined in publication. Corresponding author:
Organiz./Individ. Focus: Individual
Prevention Category: Secondary
Effect size Small:
Effect size Medium:
Reference: Repar, P. A., & Reid, S. (2014). Creatively caring: Effects of arts-based encounters on hospice caregivers in South Africa. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 47(5), 946–954.   Available from: [accessed Jan 07 2023]