Understanding transition variables: the case of cinematherapy
The benefits of applying arts to medicine and the therapy of specific disease are well-known and since long studied. The MESOC approach aims at identifying those elements and conditions enabling the adoption of these crossover protocols by a large number of health institutions. As a matter of fact, current experiences worldwide signal the ongoing transition towards integrated therapies targeting both health and the well-being of patients, often focusing on the positive synergy generated by engaging in cultural activities and traditional medical therapies. In this perspective significant cases are being selected and analyzed in the ten European MESOC cities. They offer the opportunity to observe the dynamics and relevant factors in play in those initiatives targeting the chosen impact domains: urban renovation, citizen engagement and participation and, as in this specific case, health and well-being.
An interesting field of observation in this domain is connected to the introduction of cinematherapy protocols in hospitals and other care facilities as means of both stress and physical pain reduction. In the pilot test conducted in the city of Milan, among others, the activities of the association Medicinema Italia, have been observed. The association sets up cinema spaces within hospitals and nursing homes, to be used for relief therapy for patients and family members. These spaces reproduce the structure of a cinema room, but endowing it with particular solutions, such as total accessibility, also for patients in bed or in a wheelchair, or instruments for monitoring vital functions for research purposes. The association is already present within the Niguarda Hospital in Milan, the Pediatric House Fatebenefratelli-Sacco of Milan and the Nemo Clinical Center of Milan Niguarda. A first study on 240 patients involved in a specific protocol confirmed positive effects such as reduction of anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia; reduction of physical pain; significant increase in the desire to socialize. As a collateral effect, auditoriums in the hospitals are also open to the surrounding districts with an increased demand to access the service by people not hospitalized, improving the cultural offer in those city areas (signaling secondary impacts also on the urban renovation and participation domains).
The team coordinated by Politecnico di Milano is currently working on the transition variables describing the conditions enabling the development pathway of this and similar initiatives in the specific context (e.g. the adoption of therapeutic protocols based on cinematherapy by hospitals in Milan) and those describing the transition process towards the integration of cultural and medical practices itself (e.g. the existence of agreements between health-care and cultural institutions - Ministries, Production companies, etc). At the core of this research is the necessity to identify the multiplicity of factors contributing to impact in those kinds of complex processes where no direct causal link can be established. Transition variables as well as related indicators should therefore help us better understanding and describing the pathways and eventually patterns of development and impact of they cross-cutting experiences.