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Theatre meets patient care

U research team receives a grant to investigate the value and impact of the arts in medicine

A group of interdisciplinary researchers from the arts and medicine at the University of Utah is among a select group to receive federal grant money from the National Endowment for the Arts for their work investigating the value and impact of the arts, either as individual components of the U.S. arts ecology or as they interact with each other and with other domains of American life.

“I believe that a public university exists to improve the lives of the community it serves,” said Michael L. Good, senior vice president for Health Sciences, CEO of University of Utah Health and dean of the School of Medicine. “Fostering a campus culture of collaboration between the arts and health is essential to our success. This generous support from the NEA validates and supports our efforts to expand interdisciplinary research, teaching, clinical care and community engagement on the important role the arts play in healing, recovery and wellness.”

These researchers, led by Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell from the College of Fine Arts’ Department of Theatre and Gretchen Case from the School of Medicine’s Medical Ethics and Humanities program, have developed a unique, theatre-based approach to helping health care providers, trainees and students develop and practice the skills they need to communicate with patients, families and care teams, especially when approaching difficult conversations, called Coached Rehearsal Techniques for Interpersonal Communication Skills (CRiTICS).

“The value of the arts on culture has been long understood,” said John W. Scheib, associate vice president for the Arts at the University of Utah and dean of the College of Fine Arts. “And explorations like these are helping us to understand how artistic practices and creative thinking can have powerful benefits outside of galleries and theatres and in ways that profoundly shape our healing.”

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