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REF NO.: 75

SUBJECT: Memorial University researchers study arts, crafts and living with cancer
DATE: Feb. 6, 2003

Do arts and crafts activities help people cope with cancer? That's a question Dr. Natalie Beausoleil, Community Health, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and graduate student Emerance Baker hope to answer through a pilot study on arts, crafts and living with cancer.

With $5,000 funding from the Newfoundland Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation (NCTRF), the study will focus on people with cancer who engage in arts and crafts or visual arts. Participants can choose between doing an individual interview or taking part in a focus group.

Dr. Beausoleil said that the idea for the study originated last spring when her friend Suzanne Rajotte, now deceased, spearheaded a scrapbook workshop for adults with cancer as part of the NCTRF's leisure program. Using her own scrapbook of thoughts and inspirations, Ms. Rajotte and art therapist Bev King helped other cancer patients compile their own scrapbooks. "This was the first time any formal work had been done to bring an art program to adults with cancer. Right now it is only children who have access to art therapy at the Janeway."

Reading the evaluations of the scrapbook workshop, Dr. Beausoleil realized it had been a positive experience for the participants. "And in informal meetings, many women with cancer told me that what helped them cope were activities like embroidery, knitting and quilting."

Ms. Baker is the research assistant for the pilot project. She is currently completing a master's degree in women's studies and has applied for the PhD in Community Health.

"This province is so rich in terms of arts and crafts - I've worked with Aboriginal women and observed fantastic work in rug hooking. I wonder if we might find cultural differences in the activities done by people with cancer in this province."

Dr. Beausoleil and Ms. Baker are hoping to recruit about 30 people for the pilot study. They will begin interviews as soon as participants are available.

"We want to contact people as widely as possible in the province so we have a range of people and cover a range of issues," said Ms. Baker.

Anyone over the age of 19 may take part in the study. If you are interested in participating, please contact Dr. Natalie Beausoleil at 777-8483, e-mail nbeausol@mun.ca, or Emerance Baker at 726-7211, e-mail b09eicb@mun.ca.

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