The Effects of Art Therapy on Anxiety and Distress for Korean-Ukrainian Refugee: Quasi-Experimental Design Study

Healthcare (Basel). 2023 Feb 6;11(4):466. doi: 10.3390/healthcare11040466.


Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, there has been an urgent need to provide mental healthcare and share various practices for Ukrainian war refugees. This study urgently focuses on the need for art therapy to support the mental health of Ukrainian refugees, Koryo-saram, who are staying in the Republic of Korea due to the wartime emergency. It also examines the impact of art therapy intervention on anxiety and subjective stress. The single-session art therapy with the 54 Koryo-saram refugees aged 13-68 showed the effectiveness of the art therapy intervention. The results indicate that GAD-7 (t = 3.092, p = 0.003) and SUDs (t = 3.335, p = 0.002) were statistically significant within the intervention group. In addition, satisfaction assessments of the qualitatively analyzed participants showed that Ukrainian Koryo-saram had a positive experience of art therapy. Therefore single-session art therapy in this study demonstrated the efficacy of art therapy for the anxiety and subjective distress of Ukrainian Koryo-saram refugees. This result suggests that the intervention of art therapy as immediate mental healthcare for refugees facing war could benefit the mental health of Koryo-saram refugees.

Keywords: Russia–Ukraine war; anxiety; art therapy; distress; mental health; war refugees.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.