Go to main content
BPS News

Asking patients to draw their illness can be surprisingly revealing

17 January 2019

Asking patients to draw the parts of their body affected by illness (and similar drawing challenges) can provide insights into how they think about their illness, the seriousness of their condition, and how well they are likely to cope, among other things.

For instance, when people who had experienced a heart attack were asked on repeated occasions to draw their heart, an increase in the size of their drawings over time correlated with more anxiety and a slower return to work.

This example and many others feature in a new paper in Health Psychology Review that’s charted the use of patient drawings in peer-reviewed research, finding that the approach has increased in popularity in recent years. 

From 1970 to 2002, the average number of papers involving patient drawings published per year was 0.5, whereas that increased to an average of 5.9 per year between 2003 and 2016.

Read more in a new post by Christian Jarrett on our Research Digest blog.

Topics

Top of page