Monika Wigger, Britta Lauro, Sybille Kastner, Michael Ganß, Dorothee Wiewrodt, Art and Coping in Brain Tumor Patients and Relatives in The Museum Space

MediCult – Revista de mediere culturală II (2023)


Brain tumors are among the rather rare, but often life-threatening tumor diseases. In addition to the stressful cancer diagnosis, those affected are also concerned about having to adjust to possible limitations in cognitive functions such as perception, memory,
attention, action planning and communication. Changes in these functional areas can affect patients’ sense of identity. In many cases, brain tumours are therefore associated with complex physical, psychological and social stress and are therefore a major challenge for those affected, but also for their relatives.

In recent years, psycho-oncology has gained in importance as a complementary medical service for the emotional needs of patients and their relatives, in addition to conventional medical measures such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Since 2011, the Brain Tumor Center of the University Hospital Münster has been offering an art-based program for those affected and their relatives in cooperation with the Pablo Picasso Art Museum Münster in the context of psycho-oncological care. The event, which takes place once a month, is accompanied by the psycho-oncologist of neurosurgery, an art therapist and an art educator from the museum. Out of the results of our scientific study, we present herein the first results of the qualitative analysis. The study was carried out in two fixed groups, each of which completed three consecutive museum visits. The main aspect here is the question of whether the art offer contributes to developing coping strategies by brain tumor patients, relatives and bereaved families and to what extent the art museum is experienced as a protecting place and space for cultural participation. The results show that participants from all groups benefit significantly from the art-based accompanying offer. The situational psychological relief and the strengthening exchange within the group can already be experienced as helpful support during the museum
visit. In addition, finished works can function as a communication occasion at home or the memory of the event can be used as a strategy to achieve a positive inner state in times of crisis.