Funding through Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network Supports Research into Art Therapy and Music Therapy
The National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to support four new pilot research studies into art therapy and music therapy, as part of the agency’s Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. This component of Creative Forces is managed in partnership with the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (HJF), Inc. The funding for these projects totals $1,300,000 and will take place fiscal years 2021-2023.
The NEA is committed to investing in research that explores the impact and benefits—physical, social, and emotional—of creative arts therapies. These projects are designed to address the following questions that were identified in the Creative Forces Conceptual Frameworks Phase 2 Final Report
1. How and to what extent does art therapy affect emotional processing and self-regulation for service members and veterans?
2. How and to what extent does music therapy affect the perception of chronic pain in service members and/or veterans who experience chronic pain?
Relief from chronic pain, along with improved emotional regulation, are two key outcome areas of interest to the Creative Forces clinical team, based on the patient populations served. The research questions also build on existing knowledge about the application of creative arts therapies to these domains and in these populations.
Two of the research teams will focus on the art therapy question and two on the music therapy question:
1. The University of Pennsylvania will investigate art therapy and emotional well-being in military populations with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (Bethesda, MD).
2. The University of Florida, Drexel University, and the Malcom Randall VA (Gainesville, FL) will study the extent to which art therapy decreases PTSD symptoms after traumatic brain injury (TBI), and how it improves self-regulation and affects related indicators of neurophysiological response.
3.Drexel University and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (Anchorage, AK) will examine group music therapy for chronic pain management in service members with co-morbid chronic pain and mild TBI.
4. The Indiana Institute for Medical Research, in collaboration with the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center (Indianapolis, IN), will test music therapy as a pain management strategy, in a study titled “Feasibility and Acceptability of Music Imagery and Listening Interventions for Analgesia (FAMILIA).”
Support of such studies—and the pursuit of more rigorous research designs for investigating creative arts therapies—is envisioned in the Creative Forces Clinical Research Strategic Framework and Five-Year Agenda, which articulates goals for expanding Creative Forces’ research capacity.
“The selection of these four studies will allow leading researchers from multiple areas of expertise to contribute new knowledge about how and why—and under what conditions—creative arts therapies work for our service members and veterans recovering from trauma,” said Sunil Iyengar, Director of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Office of Research and Analysis.
“This funding represents a unique opportunity to advance art therapy and music therapy by investigating these non-pharmacological clinical interventions and how they can be leveraged to enhance the well-being of military populations,” said HJF President and CEO Dr. Joseph Caravalho. “HJF is proud to be part of this innovative research examining clinical work through the lens of neuroscience, biopsychosocial frameworks, and more—in advance of conducting fully powered trials to identify putative mechanisms and test efficacy.”
Upon completion of the pilot studies, the teams will be invited to apply for funding for randomized-controlled trials (RCTs)or other large-scale studies that build on their initial results. From those applications, HJF will support up to two projects as part of Creative Forces, each totaling $650,000 for a period of two and a half years. These RCTs or other large-scale studies will be designed to yield generalizable findings about the benefits of including art therapy or music therapy in common clinical practice.