Art therapy has been used in a variety of settings, for a variety of populations, and has been molded to fit the needs of various specific populations. The present systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to quantify the efficacy of art therapy for patients with cancer. A secondary aim of this paper was to question if the psychological frameworks on which the art therapy was created affected the outcome of the intervention. Google Scholar, PsychINFO, and Web of science were used for extensive searches for studies that included specific criteria for inclusion into this systematic review. The criteria included needing art therapy as a form of treatment and using randomized control trials. Five studies met inclusion criteria, which yielded 68 post-test, between-groups effect sizes across 96 participants with varying demographic backgrounds. Across all effect sizes, there was evidence that art therapy was superior to a control condition in enhancing psychological functioning (d =0.478). However, positive effects were not universal across all 8 specific domains that were examined. Positive effects were observed for five domains including: anxiety, depression, quality of life, emotion, physical and social. Overall results suggested that art therapy is beneficial for various psychological constructs among patients with cancer, relative to a control condition. Recommendations for improving quality of reporting and enhancing the empirical literature on art therapy techniques are offered.


Karazsia, Bryan




Alternative and Complementary Medicine

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Jessica D. Friesen