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13-06-2017 | Uitgave 10/2017

Quality of Life Research 10/2017

Comparison of good days and sick days of school-age children with cancer reflected through their drawings

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 10/2017
Lauri A. Linder, Heather Bratton, Anna Nguyen, Kori Parker, Susanna Phinney



Childhood cancer disrupts children’s daily life experiences. Eliciting children’s perspectives regarding their life experiences during cancer treatment can be challenging. The purpose of this study was to characterize elementary school-age children’s “good days” and “sick days” through their drawings.


This study used draw-and-tell interviews, a developmentally sensitive arts-based technique that supports children’s recall and communication of information, facilitating a deeper understanding of children’s personal interpretation and meaning of a given phenomenon of interest. Children were asked to draw pictures representing both a “good day” and a “sick day.” Following completion of each drawing, research team members used a semi-structured interview guide to elicit children’s explanations of their pictures. Content analysis techniques were used to descriptively characterize children’s drawings followed by thematic analysis to identify commonalities.


Participants were 27 children 6.33–12.83 years of age (mean 9.16 years; SD = 1.9) receiving treatment for cancer. “Good day” and “sick day” pictures were similar with regards to the presence of the child, the inclusion of other individuals, and the type of art medium used. Children’s pictures characterized “good days” as being happy, outside in sunny weather, and engaged in activities. In contrast, “sick days” were characterized as feeling sad, lying down or reclining, and experiencing illness-related symptoms.


Children’s drawings illustrate their capacity to provide rich personal data related to their “good days” and “sick days.” Incorporating arts-based strategies in the clinical setting may provide a child-centric strategy to understand the child’s perspective and direct interventions.

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