Evaluation of a Programme of Online Arts Activities for Patients with Kidney Disease during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Healthcare (Basel). 2022 Jan 28;10(2):260. doi: 10.3390/healthcare10020260.


Patients living with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) have been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As these patients are considered extremely clinically vulnerable, they were advised to 'shield' at home, with limited face-to-face contact and support for the duration of the pandemic. Living with ESKD impacts heavily on patients' mental health and wellbeing, and this extended period of isolation and loneliness is likely to have a further negative effect on patients' mental wellbeing. The Renal Arts Group (RAG), Queen's University Belfast, aims to improve the quality of life of those living with ESKD and the extended renal community through engagement with the arts. We developed an initiative, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and carried out an evaluation. The initiative included a programme of online arts-based activities that built upon the work of RAG and provided mental wellbeing support for patients who faced an extended, lonely period of self-isolation. We worked with experienced arts practitioners to identify appropriate activities and developed five workshops and tutorials that were delivered online. We received positive feedback from participants who found the activities to be enjoyable, beneficial to their mental wellbeing and were interested in undertaking further activities online. We conducted interviews with the arts facilitators and identified three themes for consideration when developing online arts activities for the renal community. Participants reported that the activities benefited their mental wellbeing, were enjoyable and provided an opportunity to meet others with shared interests. The arts facilitators reported experiences around accessibility, audience engagement, impact on health and wellbeing and facilitator experience, that should be considered when developing online arts activities for the renal community. This evaluation will inform future work in this area, and the arts tutorial videos developed as part of this project will remain available online for members of the renal community to access.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; arts; end-stage kidney disease; mental health and wellbeing.