An innovative Newcastle research project is measuring the impact of creating art on the symptoms and overall wellbeing of people living with an autoimmune illness.
A team at the University of Newcastle, in conjunction with the Autoimmune Resource and Research Centre at John Hunter Hospital, is working with participants with a range of autoimmune illnesses including Lupus, Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome.
Dr Kathryn Grushka from the University said the team was monitoring improvements to participants’ sense of wellbeing and measureable indicators of health, particularly levels of stress.
“Stress is a major flare factor for autoimmune illnesses. We are testing levels of the stress hormone cortisol by taking saliva samples before and after artmaking workshops,” Dr Grushka said.
Participants’ quality of life and functionality is being measured by reviewing digital and written diaries and through standard health assessments, such as testing mobility, blood pressure and heart rate.
The study consists of artists, non-artists and those without an autoimmune illness, with all participants asked to produce artworks based on personal experiences.
The results are due to be published in early 2012.
Work created through the project will be displayed in the halls of John Hunter Hospital from Tuesday 4 October, Lupus awareness month, until January 2012 as part of Hunter New England Health’s ‘Arts for Health Program’.
HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.