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The Emotional Impact of Healthcare Environments

The Emotional Impact of Healthcare Environments

Posted In // Healthcare Design Tips

Connection of mood to place in healthcare

The scientific evidence is ample that a patient’s surroundings will play a major role in how quickly and effectively they heal. In fact, there are over 600 published studies that demonstrate the influence of design on healthcare results.

This increasingly convincing body of research has found that the way hospitals have been built for decades leads to higher stress and slower recovery. In fact, researchers have learned that the impact of misguided interior design extends to staff efficiency as well as patient health. Amazingly, because design hasn’t been focused enough on moment-to-moment needs, nurses now find themselves walking for 29% of each shift – second only to patient care, representing 57% of their work hours.

Five factors that influence health outcomes

Since there is so much research related to healthcare design, the notion of evidence-based design has become prevalent since it incorporates research findings into the way that medical space is organized. According to the Center for Health Design, evidence-based design (EBD) is “the process of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes.”

EBD reveals five factors of healthcare surroundings that have a substantial effect on recovery:

#1. The natural world. Our biological makeup strongly wants access to natural surroundings on a regular basis: just 3 to 5 minutes of natural immersion improves mood. Evidence-based designers focus on increasing sunlight and the ability of patients to see outside; they also tend to more significantly include aquariums and plants.

#2. Control. If the patient feels that they have the ability to modify the environment and basic parameters for better comfort, stress levels go down. For those reasons, designers are now likelier to build in:

  • Adjustable thermostat and lights
  • Option of numerous music stations
  • More diverse types of seating
  • The ability to shift the meals to different times.
However, with this element of the care setting, a balanced perspective is critical – especially since a study conducted at the University of California, Davis, revealed that high patient satisfaction can actually correlate to worse health outcomes.

#3. Loved ones. A number of studies suggested that helping loved ones to engage in the process yields better health outcomes.

#4. Stressors. Several issues that often occur in healthcare settings and can lead to higher patient stress are sunlight glare, excessive noise, and lack of fresh air. A strong design team will focus on preventing noise and other environmental stressors.

#5. Distractions. Distractions, often of the natural variety, can be extraordinarily powerful for patients. “In one example [study], heart surgery patients in intensive care who viewed nature (landscape scenes) reported less anxiety/stress and needed fewer pain medications than a control group with no pictures,” said Mary Jo Kreitzer, RN, PhD.

Stepping forward with research-based design

Could your healthcare environment be improved by incorporating the findings of research-based design? Beaux-Arts Group can help you answer that question. Contact a design specialist.





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