When Pablo Picasso rightly quoted, “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary”, little did anyone know that the medical industry would be spontaneous enough to take a cue from visual arts, and try its best to implement the saying as it were. What is the link connection between art and healthcare, in fact, is there even a link between the two? Well, yes. In fact, fine arts have been inspiring the healthcare industry, to a great extent. 

So much so that more and more healthcare organizations including multispecialty hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers, etc. are being beautified with visual arts. Acknowledging the role and importance of fine visual arts in healthcare, leading industry experts have been agreeing with the fact that visual art is good medicine. Keep reading to discover more about how and why fine arts continue to beautify and inspire the healthcare domain. 

One way or another, all of us have had our bit of hospital visits for myriad reasons. What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “hospital”? White walls and contrasting flooring, green or any other tinted curtains and upholstery, and some indoor plants or keepsakes here and there. And of course, the medical staff. 

Visual art is good medicine now that there has been a pleasant addition in hospital interiors, in the form of visual arts. More and more hospitals and healthcare centers have started incorporating attractive and interesting visual arts, especially in waiting rooms, which otherwise would be poorly designed and not well-managed. Therefore, even in an era wherein healthcare costs are shooting up every minute, industry experts are realizing the importance of spending on aesthetics and interiors. 

But the question is, can a visually appealing drawing or a picture help minimize pain and anxiety? Does visual art serve as a medicine and in turn, help patients heal faster?

Let’s briefly look at two independent studies that suggest that artwork in the form of painting or a photograph can prove to be a helpful drug for patients visiting the healthcare center. 

In a 2012 study conducted and funded by the Center for Health and Design Research, it was found that when the emergency department waiting rooms sport visual art such as nature, it positively affects patient behavior. Visual art is good medicine as through art and paintings, patients become overall less restless and anxious. Common patient behavior like fidgeting and being too questioning at the front desk has perceptibly decreased. Also, there is a reduction in the average noise level in the waiting area.

Similarly, a 2017 study from the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health and Well-being found that when artwork is present in waiting room settings, patients are more likely to interact with each other and engage with the staff as well. Visual art is good medicine for it fosters a sense of togetherness, ease, and relatedness. It was further claimed that visual arts provide a positive distraction from discomfort.

Hospitals are investing considerable amounts of time, effort, and funds to get their interiors all decked up. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that spaces that were once cold, bleak, and sterile, are getting transformed into mini-museums and modern art destinations. Moreover, a few hospitals are even experimenting with audio and video installations to offer their patients with added advantages. 

Visual art is good medicine as an individual engages with a work of art differently when they are sick and when they are healthy. That’s because the artwork has the power to shift the way the mind thinks during an illness. 

When a patient comes in contact with captivating artwork and looks at it with a different perspective, everything else including their illness seems to be a distraction. This has a positive impact not only on the patient’s mind but also on their health, driving faster recovery.