Object Therapy: A Student-selected Component Exploring the Potential of Museum Object Handling as an Enrichment Activity for Patients in Hospital

  •  Helen Chatterjee    
  •  Guy Noble    


This study involved innovative research in a novel field, namely ‘object therapy’, within the framework of a
student-selected component (SSC) undertaken by second year, Phase 1 Medicine students at University College London.
The project had a series of intrinsic aims: to provide medical students with communication skills, methods of assessing
wellbeing and research techniques and to evaluate the potential of museum object handling as an enrichment activity in
hospitals. Five medical students undertook museum object handling activities at 24 patient’s bedsides in order to assess
the psychological impact of ‘object therapy’ using standard Quality of Life (QoL) measures. Quantitative analyses
indicated an increase in overall well being and patient’s perception of their health status at the end of the session.
Qualitative analyses revealed patients felt positive about the role of object handling sessions as a distraction from
everyday ward life. The study showed that this is a novel enrichment activity which has the potential to enhance
patient’s lives whilst in hospital. The SSC provided valuable communication and research skills to students in their
pre-clinical year, affording an opportunity to interact with patients, gain ward experience and an appreciation of the
importance of considering the whole person when treating a patient.

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