3 Creative Initiatives in Health and Clinical Research

April Schultz
August 25th, 2015

In the clinical research industry, science and data often rule over art and creativity. However, there’s a lot to be learned from art and its power to attract and heal patients. Listed below are three initiatives that found success by introducing art into the world of medicine.

1. The Alternative Limb Project

Photo by Omkaar Kotedia

After working for a prosthetics company for eight years creating hyper-realistic limbs for amputees, Sophie de Oliveira Barata was inspired by one of her youngest clients, Paulianna. This little girl came to Sophie with very unique ideas for her prosthetic leg, including built-in secret compartments to hold all of her toys.1

Sophie realized that not all prosthetics patients want to disguise their limb as a realistic part of the body, but wish for something more. This realization started the Alternative Limb Project, an initiative to create artistic, surrealist prosthetics for each individual patient.2

The Alternative Limb Project has empowered numerous prosthetics patients to feel more connected with their limbs, specifically because they are different, unique and individualized.


Sophie takes patient-centricity to a whole new level by making her patients feel (and look) like they’re one-of-a-kind. From beginning to end of each project, Sophie listens to her patients’ needs and works to create something that provides a better quality of life. This initiative shows that individualizing your patient care has the potential to increase patient appreciation as well as compliance and retention.

2. The Art of Saving a Life

By Alexia Sinclair

When contemplating ways to promote the global importance of vaccines, Health Communications Expert, Christine McNab, asked herself “what makes me cry, what makes me think?”3 Her answer: the arts. Christine launched the initiative “The Art of Saving a Life,” a collection of artistic pieces curated to promote the impact of vaccines and stress the importance of increased immunization around the world.

The collection incorporates many mediums, including photography, painting, language and music. More than 30 world-renowned artists joined the initiative, including photographer, Vik Muniz, who worked with bioengineer and designer, Tal Danino, to craft an image composed of infected liver cells.3


This project uses the power of promotion in an amazing way. Christine collaborated with creative minds to spread her message on a global scale. This initiative demonstrates that, when promoting your clinical trials, thinking outside the box and finding the right external contributors or key influencers could significantly increase patient interest.

3. The Healing Arts Program

Creative Arts Therapist, Melissa Walker, began the Healing Arts Program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in 2010 to assist injured service men and women. This program works to address and heal the emotional distress of war in a unique and visual way: mask making.

The program encourages patients to express their feelings through the physical representation of their mask, providing them a non-verbal and creative means of “unleashing [their] words.”4

Photo by Lynn Johnson

Service members are given a blank paper-mâché mask as a base for their masterpieces. Melissa says many patients are hesitant when they first enter the class, but the majority find relief through exploration of the materials. Patients in the program have created more than 600 masks.4


Similar to the Alternative Limb Project, this program is admirably patient-centric. Melissa gives members of the program a voice by providing them an outlet and listening to their stories. Giving your patient a way to express concerns and communicate with your site staff (e.g. forums, events or social media pages) could increase your knowledge about what’s working and what isn’t and allow you to alter your methods with the patient in mind.

These three initiatives are successful because they use art to individualize and promote patient care. Using these programs as inspiration, don’t be afraid to get creative with your next clinical trial. Think outside the box to attract new patients and implement a more patient-centric approach to keep them happier and hopefully more compliant.

To learn more about patient-centricity and patient retention read “Not All Patients are Alike – Patient-Centric Trial Design by Disease” and view this creative infographic.

Free Resources for Clinical Research Professionals

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