Supportive Care

Art Therapy: A Literature Review of Efficacy in Improving Psychosomatic Symptoms in Patients With Cancer

Denise LaPenna

Joseph D. Tariman
art therapy, depression, anxiety, quality of life, holistic medicine
CJON 2020, 24(2), 123-126. DOI: 10.1188/20.CJON.123-126

A high percentage of patients with cancer receive a comorbid diagnosis of anxiety, depression, or another psychological disorder. However, research evaluating the efficacy of art therapy as an intervention to alleviate these symptoms is limited. Art therapy can offer psychosomatic symptom relief among patients with cancer, but more rigorous and randomized controlled clinical trials are warranted to strengthen evidence-based research supporting its clinical utility.


  • Art therapy uses creative processes to enrich and enhance the lives of patients experiencing psychosomatic symptoms.
  • Based on a literature review of eight studies, art therapy improved patients’ anxiety in seven studies, depression in five studies, and overall quality of life in four studies.
  • Additional research on the benefits of art therapy are needed to fully understand its efficacy in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression and overall quality of life in patients with cancer.
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