We were excited to learn about the Consumer Health Foundation‘s recent efforts to integrate the arts and humanities into the foundation’s work in a variety of different ways. In this interview, Margaret O’Bryon, President and CEO of the Consumer Health Foundation, tells us more about how and why the foundation is engaging in this kind of work. This is the first of a two-part interview. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.
Q: What do humanities and arts bring to heath and health care?
Margaret O’Bryon: The interdisciplinary field of arts and health brings together artists, health care professionals, community workers, and researchers. While there is more research to be done in this area, findings to date indicate that artistic engagement has significantly positive effects on health. This can take the form of the visual arts, music, dance, drama, writing, including poetry, storytelling, journaling, among others. Healing-oriented engagement in the arts, has a profound healing effect on the entire clinical team, including providers and caregivers. Patient health outcomes and attitudes are also improved.
Q: How has the Consumer Health Foundation (CHF) integrated the arts into its own work and why has it done so?
M.O: CHF has fully embraced the power of storytelling as an art that has the power to transport us into another person’s reality and to connect our work to those experiences and insights.
In January, the Foundation partnered with Arena Stage to underwrite 200 tickets for Anna Deavere Smith’s performance of Let Me Down Easy. The powerful performance provided the venue for our community to come together and experience the stories she portrayed on stage.
To celebrate the foundation’s 10th anniversary several years ago, we sponsored a one-woman performance at Woolly Mammoth Theatre by award winning playwright and actor, Sarah Jones. Ms. Jones performed her play, A Right to Care, which was commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The play laid bare the racial, social, economic, and political inequities that lie at the root of poor health for many Americans. Both pieces were constructed around individual stories of people who share their perspectives on and experiences with our healthcare system.
Part 2 of this interview will run in tomorrow’s Daily.