"visual art contributes to shortening the length of stay in hospital and significantly reduces the consumption of painkillers"

A Study of the Effects of Visual and Performing Arts in Health Care, CWHC

Our Research

We believe that everyone, regardless of their age, condition or situation, should have the opportunity to make the most of our art collection. And our research helps to make this a reality.

We aim to commission and collaborate on a broad range of research to better understand the needs of those who benefit from our services and the diverse support that we can offer.

Our Recent Studies

‘Artworks I Like’: Exploring Artwork Preferences with Autistic People

In 2014 Paintings in Hospitals and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art worked together to produce ‘Artworks I Like’, a study exploring the artwork preferences of people on the autistic spectrum.

The study, funded by the Shirley Foundation, describes the methods, findings and implications of a qualitative research project and presents a number of insights into the qualities of artworks and ways in which to use different types of visual art that create positive engagement for people with autism.

The study analysed responses to specific artworks covering 21 different categories, including: animals, countryside, photograph/realism, shapes, and abstraction. This analysis generated a set of 17 artwork principles that were qualified by a further round of expert interviews. These principles are not intended to be prescriptive but instead aim to inform and guide in choosing artworks with and for people with autism.

Some of the artwork principles include:

  • Special interests: Pairing the subject and/or style of an artwork to a person’s special interests is a good way to engender positive engagement.
  • Detailed: Detailed, technically drawn artworks proved very popular with some participants who became preoccupied with the level of detail.
  • Balance/Symmetry: Artworks that are balanced and symmetrical are important to many people with autism who find uneven or incomplete work frustrating.

The study concludes with general advice on the location, context and positioning of artworks in the environment.

Read the full study here