Freedon or evidence? : art-based service for a health care unit

Pia Strandman-Suontausta

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


The present research aims to find out the possibilities art can provide for presence in the field of health and social care. A further aim is to establish an art-based service for a health care unit. The study investigates the prerequisites for an art-based service targeted to reach audiences, which can access neither art nor established art services. Three exhibition-like art services co-created between an art museum, three artists and health care units form a part of the study. Thus, the research aims at finding out the type of service experienced as relevant as well as meaningful and functional by all participants. The research moves between the fields of arts, service marketing and health care. The study is a qualitative study and thus it aims at acquiring applied knowledge. The present study is carried out as action research with an ethnographic approach. Triangulation forms a central concept in the study. The research material consists of data acquired by interviews, observations and questionnaires. Subsequently, the research material has been analysed by employing content analysis. The research relies on Dewey’s pragmatic art theory as well as his concept related to the significance of an art experience. The main three questions of the present study read as follows: 1. What kind of art ensemble do on the one hand the residents of the health care unit and on the other hand the staff in health care and rehabilitation find meaningful in a health care environment? 2. What are the required features concerning the art-based services in a care unit? 3. What activities are facilitated for the users by art-based services in a care unit? The present study discusses how art is defined when art is located in a care unit. The research topic is approached by employing the following concepts which are generally supposed to be prevailing in the context: art experience is significant; good, beautiful and high quality art is suitable for a care unit; one steps into a special life world of a care unit. The following concepts developed into central themes: meaningful art; art service as both a tool and service; co-operation in the borderline area between culture and arts as well as health and social care and consequently, the art paradigm of the context. A significant art experience can be described with the following four themes: meaningful individual and collective experiences; temporal space provided by art; a chance to step into “another” world; and finally, both spiritual as well as physical spaces of art. The recipients, the staff of the care unit stressed both the functionality of the service and its nature as a tool for activities. The need of the service had not been widely recognized in the care unit and the customership appeared as manifold in the context. When studying the service, both the model of basic service package and The Augmented Service Offering were utilized. Seven methods of using the service were found as well as key qualities and prerequisites for use. The results also indicate the importance of partially standardizing the service. The service was carried out as a co-creation process. Multidisciplinary and multiprofessional co-operation remains as a prerequisite when developing a service that has been experienced as significant. In this context, art can be described by the neologism Artification. Expecting evidence can be strongly noticed in a care unit. The present research focuses on both unique and ordinary sides of encountering art. The freedom ethos could be clearly detected from the research material. The results encourage discussing art as a discourse of receiving. Particular requirements with respect to both sensitivity in action and listening to the customer are set for all participants in the context.
Translated title of the contributionFreedon or evidence? : art-based service for a health care unit
Original languageFinnish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Varto, Juha, Supervising Professor
  • Saarenheimo, Marja, Thesis Advisor
  • Sederholm, Helena, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-5025-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-5026-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • art experience
  • health and social care
  • co-planning
  • art-based service
  • augmented service offering
  • art paradigm

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