Through the Video Lens: Art as Healing for Grieving Family Members
CCCF ePoster library. Azad M. 11/11/19; 283422; EP26
Dr. Marisa Azad
Dr. Marisa Azad
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Topic: Quality Assurance & Improvement

Azad, Marisa1; Piticaru, Josh2, Clarke, France2,3, Swinton, Marilyn3, Takaoka, Alyson2, Hoad, Neala2, Pellizzari, Joe2, Cook, Deborah2,3
1 Division of Infectious Diseases / Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Critical Care / Intensive Care Unit, St. Joseph's Healtcare, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; 3 Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Introduction: Under the auspices of the ICCCare Program (Improving Compassion in Critical Care) at St Joseph's Healthcare, we supported a resident-led project involving the creation of personalized paintings for grieving family members of patients enrolled in the 3 Wishes Project (3WP).  The 3WP is an end-of-life intervention to provide compassionate care for dying patients and their families in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Objective: ARTICU (Personalized Artwork to Ease Bereavement in the ICU) involved approaching families for consideration of receiving an individualized painting commemorating their deceased loved one.  In this project, we used videography to complement other qualitative data collection techniques. The purpose of this method was to visually capture the artist's rationale for image selection for the painting as explained to family recipients, and to capture the family's initial responses to this personalized artwork. 

Methods:  This arts-based research initiative applying a multiple forms approach was completed in a 21 bed, university-affiliated ICU in Hamilton, Ontario1. After obtaining verbal family consent for the creation of a personalized painting, we provided the artist with patient data, including values, interests and wishes in the 3WP.  Clinicians shared with the artist patient stories from the family. If one was available, a “Word Cloud” (a visual representation of words collated by families to represent who the patient was, and reflect “what mattered most” to them) was shared with the artist. Lastly, the artist contacted family members to describe her vision for the painting, and gathered input from family members as a final step in the co-creation process. Upon painting completion and framing, the family was invited to the hospital to receive the gift and to create an opportunity for the artist to present and describe the images in the painting.  We obtained verbal consent to video record this encounter. Two investigators reviewed and interpreted these videos, synthesizing findings from the perspectives of the family members, clinicians and the artist.

Results:  Approximately 2-6 months post-mortem, a total of 20 family members of 9 deceased patients received a personalized painting in honour of their loved one. The descriptive features of the paintings were thoughtfully presented to the family by the artist during the encounter, revealing symbolism and messages purposefully placed within the art.  In turn, families identified features of the painting which prompted  the recounting of stories related to the imagery - for example, a passion for gardening, links to a country of origin, love of fishing, and connection to First Nations roots. Visual imagery through these videos captured emotional interactions between the artist and families; families were deeply moved that their loved one would be honoured this way and occasionally shared where this painting would be displayed.  

Conclusions:   Personalized paintings had a powerful impact on family members in grief as interpreted by verbal and nonverbal communication. Videography captured the artist's stories behind personalized paintings, which in turn prompted narratives by families, and evoked emotional moments between families and the artist and clinical team. Videography can be an effective adjunct to capture and create lasting impressions of personalized post-mortem artistic interventions that are both long-lasting and deeply meaningful.

1. Wang Q, Coemans S, Siegesmund R, Hannes K. Arts-Based Methods in Socially Engaged Research Practice: A Classification Framework. Arts/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Jounral; 2017: 2(2)
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