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Emma Millard

The Role of Patient Preferences in the Arts Therapies

Government guidelines recommend that patients should be involved in making decisions about their treatment as often as possible (1–3). Shared decision-making involves collaboration between patients and clinicians (4) and is an essential aspect of mental healthcare (5,6). It incorporates the patient’s values and preferences as well as the clinician’s knowledge of treatment options (7), and previous research implies that receipt of a preferred treatment is associated with improved engagement and outcomes (8–10).

Across the arts therapies modalities there is an obvious difference in the art form being used, therefore, patients’ expectations, past experiences/memories of the art forms, values and preferences may play a considerable role in their engagement and the success of the therapy. An increased understanding of this could support a more collaborative, patient-led approach in mental health care.
In this presentation I will discuss my mixed-methods PhD project relating to different aspects of patient preferences in the arts therapies. After finding important consequences of offering mental health patients their preferred psychosocial intervention (11), the project has explored which patient characteristics are associated with their arts modality preferences, such as gender or symptom severity. I investigated ways in which we can support patients to make informed decisions about their participation in the arts therapies, using leaflets, videos or taster sessions, as well as patients’ experiences of making a choice. The findings can help us to understand what might be important to patients in mental health settings when making decisions about their treatment, and how we can be led by their values and preferences.

Emma Millard

Emma Millard is a music therapist and PhD student at East London NHS Foundation Trust and Queen Mary University of London. She has a BSc in Psychology from the University of Reading and a Music Therapy MA from Guildhall School of Music and Drama. By the time of the conference, she will be in the final stages of her PhD relating to patient preferences for the arts therapies. She is also the Research Network Coordinator for the British Association of Music Therapy (BAMT). In her spare time, she is a member of the London Philharmonic Choir and enjoys reading, cooking and riding her new bike around London.

Recent Publications


Windle E. Music Therapy in Mental Healthcare [Internet]. Circadian. 2020. Available from: https://www.blcircadian.com/home/music-therapy-in-mental-healthcare
Sabitova A, McGranahan R, Altamore F, Jovanovic N, Windle E, Priebe S. (2020) Indicators Associated With Job Morale Among Physicians and Dentists in Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1913202. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.13202
Windle E, Tee H, Sabitova A, Jovanovic N, Priebe S, & Carr, C (2019) Association of Patient Treatment Preference With Dropout and Clinical Outcomes in Adult Psychosocial Mental Health Interventions A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.3750
Windle E, Hickling L. M, Jayacodi S, & Carr C (2019) The Experiences of Patients in the Synchrony Group Music Therapy Trial for Long-term Depression. The Arts in Psychotherapy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2019.101580