#ANZSPM16 – How does literature enrich our understanding of illness and dying?

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If, like me, you appreciate the arts and enjoy becoming engrossed in the literature (not indexed on PubMed)—then this workshop is for you!

On the morning of Sunday, 11th September #ANZSPM16 delegates will be treated to the workshop:

From Tolstoy to Garner: How literature enriches our understanding of illness & dying.

The workshop will be facilitated by: Gabrielle Brand, Felicity Hawkins, Carol Douglas, Mary McNulty, Valerie Henry, and Anna Petterson.

For more background on the use of arts and literature in palliative care, continue reading!

The Arts are increasingly recognised for their healing potential in health care. In their book The Creative Arts in Palliative Care, Nigel Hartley and Malcolm Payne showcase the use of arts in palliative care settings as a powerful way of addressing the practical, psychological, social and spiritual issues faced by service users in end-of-life care.

Music therapy, in particular, has received recent attention from researchers, with one Queensland study contributing evidence that music therapy can significantly reduce perceptions of pain in children with life-limiting conditions. Elsewhere in Australia, community palliative care service users have described music therapy as an essential part of their palliative care – as reported in this case study by Karen Bolger, from Calvary Health Care Bethlehem in Melbourne.

As a clinician, I myself have observed the powerful influence of music therapy within an inpatient setting – for both patients and staff. But what about literature?

As one of the arts, literature can have a profound impact on us both personally and professionally. It can influence the way we understand illness and dying, as well as the compassionate care we provide to patients and their families.

In their essay Healing the healer: poetry in palliative care Coulehan and Clary (2005) argue that both reading and writing poetry can help physicians, especially those who care for dying patients, become more reflective, creative, and compassionate practitioners.

More recently, others have implemented poetry writing programs that are viewed as a unique form of self-care for palliative care providers, whilst enriching palliative care for patients and their families. The arts and literature have also been used as educational vehicles to explore personal and professional dimensions of palliative care, as outlined in a case study from the UK.

So, to satisfy your literary yearnings – ATTEND THE WORKSHOP From Tolstoy to Garner: How literature enriches our understanding of illness and dying on Sunday, 11th September as part of #ANZSPM16. It is workshops like this that help balance the science of palliative care with the arts and humanities.


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