Catherine McCabe (chair of group discussion)

This podcast features extracts from a round table discussion by a group of postgraduate researchers around the academic positioning of arts and health research. It was hosted by the Waterford Healing Arts Trust in the School of Nursing Trinity College in 2011 and chaired by Catherine McCabe PhD.

In May 2011, the Waterford Healing Arts Trust invited a number of people currently involved in postgraduate arts and health research to attend a discussion in the School of Nursing, Trinity College to discuss “what is the academic home for arts and health?”

The impetus for this discussion came from a query I received regarding the availability of arts and health theory, which as a stand alone academic discipline does not exist.  Those engaged in research in this field draw from a diverse range of disciplines and apply a range of research methodologies. The discussion acknowledges the challenges and complexities in positioning arts and health research.

The discussion was chaired by Catherine McCabe, the Director of Teaching and Learning (Undergraduate) and Director of the BSc Programme at the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College, Dublin.  Catherine’s PhD researched the impact of the Open Window Project in St. James’ Hospital on patients in the National Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.

The event was attended by:

  • Sheila Broderick, who is carrying out a PhD with The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media (GradCAM) on interpretations of arts and health.
  • Kevin O’Shanahan, psychiatric nurse and musician who is investigating music and health interventions within a recovery-based model of mental health care at University College Cork.
  • Hilary Moss, Arts Director at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin, incorporating the National Children’s Hospital, who is embarking on a PhD in Trinity College, School of Medicine about the benefits of arts for older patients accessing health services, with particular emphasis on the question of aesthetic deprivation.
  • Martina Hynan, artist, who is looking at questions of birth, identity and the medical phentermine gaze through her PhD in the Art History and Cultural Policy Department of University College Dublin.
  • Mary Grehan, Arts Director of the Waterford Healing Arts Trust who completed an MA at the University of Central Lancashire, UK, whereby she carried out a comparative study between hospitals and galleries as sights for viewing art.
  • Katriona Gillespie, supervisor on the Medical Humanities Module at University College Galway.

1          The impetus for arts and health research

This discussion looks at individuals’ impetus for embarking on arts and health research.  This varied from creating space for reflection on professional practice to the need for evidence to support a case for arts and health.

Click here to listen to this discussion.

2          The nature of evidence

It is argued here that the traditional view of evidence based on clinically based research can be challenged and expanded to include other intelligences such as patient narrative which is also gaining ground within medicine.

Click here to listen to this discussion.

3          Measurement

This discussion asks what, when and how we measure.

Click here to listen to this discussion.

4          What is art?

This discussion talks about the Placebos for Art project and how this opens up questions around what is art.

Click here to listen to this discussion.


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