Digital Nature for Healthcare

Koen Norga Monica Dhar Tom De Smedt
Ludivine Lechat
art healthcare children stress
PhD scholarship (4 years)


Research on art and healthcare to reduce stress and loneliness in hospitalized children

Ludivine Lechat, PhD candidate in the Arts

The aim of this PhD project is to study the effects of new media art (digital illustration inspired by nature) and interactive play on the major stressors of young patients. Can we reduce stress and improve the resilience of ill children by integrating relaxing and inspiring artwork in the hospital environment?

Under close supervision of healthcare professionals (prof. dr. Koen Norga, pediatric oncology, University Hospital Antwerp; prof. dr. Monica Dhar, biological psychology, Free University of Brussels), creativity research (dr. Tom De Smedt, St Lucas School of Arts), nursing staff, and in consultation with hospitalized children, I will examine visual aesthetics and narrative approaches that enhance the mental well-being of young patients.

My assumptions are:

  • Illustrations of nature are soothing for hospitalized children.
  • Illustrations with an imaginary theme (e.g., fairy tales) stimulate creativity and improve resilience.
  • Interactive games shift mental focus and reduce stress in the child.
  • Collaborative play and creation breaks the child’s isolation.

Qualitative and quantitative experiments will result in a ‘building box’ of virtual artwork, which can serve as a basis for the development of a variety of multimedia projects (e.g., interactive stories on a tablet) that specifically focus on improving children’s experience of hospitalization. This approach to art is also called evidence-based design.

My research is part of the Story Table project (Experimental Media Research Group, St Lucas School of Arts Antwerp, 2016-2020). We will work on a ’family’ of interactive games that children can choose to watch, play or co-create. The game artwork will be based on my project results.

The research will be conducted at the St Lucas School of Arts (EMRG), the children’s ward of the University Hospital Antwerp (UZA), and the Collaborative Antwerp Psychiatric Research Institute (CAPRI).


Lechat L. (2016). Digital Nature. Presented at De Tuin van Heden, Plantentuin Meise, BE.