Evidenced-based evaluation of our art therapy work with children and young people is key to understanding its impact, extending its reach, ensuring fair access, and leveraging public funding. For these reasons, we're committed to learning more about the effects of art therapy on the lives of children and young people living with chronic and hidden conditions. Below are details of our research partners and the work, both planned and completed.

1. Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University (2021)

Work was completed (March 2021) on a best practice manual for group art therapy for children living with chronic conditions, developed by Dr Patricia Watts (a Teapot Trust art therapist) and Dr Simon Hackett (a trustee) – with part-funding provided by the charity. They shared their work at Teapot Trust’s online conference on 25 March 2021. Footage can be watched here.

To further develop this work, a funding bid is being submitted (May 2021), led by Dr Simon Hackett (Newcastle University) and Dr Sharmila Jandial (Great North Children’s Hospital) for a collaborative research project looking at group art-psychotherapy for anxiety and depression in children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. It is hoped the work will commence in the autumn. Other contributors include two of Teapot Trust’s art therapists. Dr Patricia Watts, who has written the treatment manual, will oversee the delivery of the art-psychotherapy sessions.

2. Historic Service Review of art therapy provided and funded by Teapot Trust in Paediatric Rheumatology departments at Glasgow and Edinburgh children’s hospitals (2019)

In September 2019, a report was finalised following a major historic review of art therapy provided and funded by Teapot Trust in Paediatric Rheumatology departments at Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow and Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh. The review was conducted and the report prepared, in partnership, by Teapot Trust art therapists, Emily Farrugia and Patricia Watts, with clinicians, Joyce Davidson and Jo Walsh.

It was important to dedicate time and resource to the review to understand how and why art therapy helps young patients and what role clinical environments can play in the efficacy of treatment. Evidence based research is vital for the sustainability of the service within NHS hospitals as well as equity of access.

92% of the children and young people supported said it helped them to feel better.

The full report is available to read here and a summary of key findings is shown in the bullet points, below.

Teapot Trust subsequently included the report’s key recommendations – building on work with siblings and families and sharing know-how with other health professionals – in its 2019-2021 strategic plan. These areas of work have become a core focus for the charity since moving art therapy services online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic when the heightened anxiety felt by the families we support was palpable.

Timed to dovetail with Teapot Trust’s Sharing Expertise conference on Thursday 25 March 2021, the charity will publish a paper that compares its learnings from online delivery of art therapy (introduced in March 2020) with the findings of the 2019 service review. We will publish the paper here and share details with paediatric clinicians, specialist medical publications and conference delegates that include hospital staff, CAMHS teams, other arts/health charities and parents.

Key findings of the 2019 historic service review were:

  • Half of patients referred to art therapy have a diagnosis of JIA (Juvenile Arthritis) which reflects the clinical population
  • High numbers of patients are being treated with Methotrexate
  • The reason cited for the majority of referrals for art therapy was to help patients cope with their diagnosis or the emotional impact of their condition and/or treatment.
  • Patient reported outcomes show significant improvements over the course of treatment for patients in their social and emotional wellbeing.
  • The results also showed the service being well used by referring clinicians as an appropriate psychological support for children and young people with rheumatic diseases.
  • Patient feedback was positive at both sites – over a third felt that art therapy had increased their confidence and they were more able to share feelings with others while 92% said it helped them to feel better about their diagnosis and its effects.
  • Art therapists based at both hospitals were embedded within paediatric rheumatology teams.
  • The dual-site service review enabled clinicians to identify differences and similarities between the RHSC, Edinburgh and RHC, Glasgow, providing valuable information and recommendations on how to effectively embed art therapy within different hospitals.