Digital Arts Based Research Methods for Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) Cancer Patients

Miller, Rebecca. 2020. Digital Arts Based Research Methods for Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) Cancer Patients. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Digital Arts Based Research Methods for Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) Cancer Patients)
COM_Thesis_MillerR_2020.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (30MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

In recent years there have been a number of reviews of art therapy and arts in health research which have mainly targeted interventions that make use of traditional visual art media such as drawing, painting, clay sculpting and the performing arts with little acknowledgement of digital visual arts exploration. This research helps to address this evidence gap, and to build a more rigorously evidenced argument, by examining the therapeutic and wellbeing outcomes of engaging with digital visual art media.
This undertaking is realised through using digital art-based research methods. This project is unique in that it was given NHS R&D approval to work with Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) cancer patients in the ambulatory day care unit at Macmillan Cancer Centre University College Hospital London. This took place shortly after its opening in 2012, therefore, it is the first study of its kind in this hospital.

Mixed methods digital and traditional art co-design workshops were held weekly for two years and nine months, with a total of 120 TYA participants. The visual art data produced in the workshops and observational journals are examined for wellbeing indicators.
The data from the initial iteration of activities suggests that indicators such as achievement, increased optimism and being active are produced through activities in which the participant works individually. The closing activity, in which up to six TYAs participated in a collaborative body map, generated additional outcomes, resulting in the appearance of indicators such as respect, feeling safe, and inclusion.

In conclusion, the practice of mixed methods research can yield differing yet complementary evidence. TYA participation in the design process was key in identifying features that point out wellbeing benefits that could lead to a research-based prototype.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

Thesis written jointly within Goldsmiths Department of Computing and the Teenge Cancer Trust, Macmillan Cancer Centre University College Hospital London.


art therapy, digital arts, teenage and young adults, arts in health, art in hospitals, art-based research, participatory design research

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 January 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2020 17:44

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 02:27


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)