AnArtomy: Arts, Anatomy and Medicine - Human Beings Being Human

Ian Walsh, Joseph Quinn, Andrea Spencer, Helen Noble

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Background The study of anatomy underpins medical education and is an important facet of clinical practice in various diverse disciplines. We explored the dynamic relationship between arts, anatomy and medicine, along the continuum axis of anatomy, medicine, healthcare and art. Aims 1. to foster and gauge artistic and creative expression within the context of medical science and practice. 2. to generate representative artwork examining the relationship between art, medicine and healthcare. Methods Two purposefully open and expressive creative workshops were held within the cadaveric dissection laboratory of the Queen’s University Department of Anatomy; with awide variety of artistic substrates available for faculty and student participants. Themes included: the relationship between art and medicine, the impact art and science have upon each other and the effects of creativity on wellbeing. Accompanying questionnaires included a quantification of perceived relationships between art and medicine; with an estimation of connectedness to feelings. Qualitative items within each questionnaire also addressed key humanistic questions. Comparative analysis of quantitative results was by Student’s t-testing; statistical significance being p values <0.05. Results, Summary and Conclusions There was a statistically significant increase in “connectedness to feelings” amongst participants over the course of the workshop. There was a trend for participants to agree or strongly agree that art and medicine were important to each other. Qualitative responses changed from specific, task-oriented hopes to responses more aligned with social/gregarious themes and those related to higher order functioning. Humanistic responses changed across the entire group from a largely fixed inclusion of the concept of emotions to broader, more altruistic visions; inclusive of communal, social views. There was a noticeable shift in emphasis from succinctly defined descriptive terms to more expressive terms; reflective and inclusive of caring, holistic practice. The most arresting and compelling results were those of the resulting representative artwork.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2018


  • Art in Health; Medical Humanities; Art and Anatomy


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