A group of doctors is turning to culture instead of pills to help patients.
Last November the Médecins Francophones du Canada (MFdC) launched a novel partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). The program allows doctors to prescribe a free visit to the MMFA to provide patients with a bit of art therapy. These museum prescriptions can be beneficial for numerous conditions, including mental-health disorders, Alzheimer's and cardiac arrhythmia, according to art therapist Stephen Legari.
It can also help doctors connect with patients on a deeper level, said Dr. Hélène Boyer, Vice President of the MFdC.
"We always ask ourselves: what more can I do? From now on, we can at least offer a moment of happiness," Boyer said when the program was announced.
Since then, the program has started to draw attention from the wider healthcare industry. Ten clinical studies are currently looking at how the MFdC-MMFA program is benefiting patients with a variety of medical issues. And the early results are positive. Research from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and Concordia University showed that patients with eating disorders felt a noticeable drop in anxiety after visiting the MMFA.
Museum prescriptions are part of the 'social prescribing' movement - a healthcare trend in which doctors recommend activities instead of medications to patients.
Currently, the MFdC-MMFA partnership is a one-year pilot program, but Legari hopes that it will eventually be expanded so that more patients can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of taking in some culture.