Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gardens have the potential to improve health, research shows

24.11.2003


Adding greenery in the form of a garden to the often sterile, cold environment of hospitals and other healthcare facilities can reduce stress in patients, visitors and staff and even lessen a patient’s pain in some instances, says a Texas A&M University authority on health care design.



Roger Ulrich, professor and director of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, says a growing body of research is giving credibility to the widely held belief that nature can improve health.

"Knowledge and research into fields such as health psychology and behavioral medicine have demonstrated that there need not be anything magical about the processes through which gardens in healthcare facilities should be capable of reducing stress and improving patients’ health," Ulrich says.


Ulrich’s research focuses on the effects of built and natural environments on people’s psychological well-being, stress and health, and he says more and more healthcare facilities are incorporating "healing gardens" into their designs as part of an international movement seeking to improve the quality of healthcare.

Healing gardens, he explains, refer to a variety of garden features that have in common a tendency to foster restoration from stress and have other positive influences on patients, visitors, staff and caregivers. They feature prominent amounts of real nature content, such as green vegetation, flowers and water and can be outdoor or indoor spaces, varying in size.

"Supportive gardens in healthcare facilities potentially can be an important adjunct to the healing effects of drugs and other modern medical technology, and help improve the overall quality of care," Ulrich says.

What’s more, research has linked poor design – or psychologically inappropriate physical surroundings – to detrimental health effects such as higher anxiety, delirium, increased need for pain medication, elevated blood pressure and sleeplessness, Ulrich notes.

Probable advantages associated with healing gardens include reduced stress and anxiety in patients, visitors and staff, reduction in depression, higher reported quality of life for chronic and terminal patients, improved way-finding in facilities and reduced pain in patients, he notes. Gardenlike scenes can apparently reduce pain, he explains, as indicated by patient ratings of perceived pain and observed intake of pain-relieving medications.

Other potential advantages, he says, include reduced provider costs because some patients need fewer doses of costly strong pain medication and the length of stay is shorter for some patients. Increased patient mobility and independence, higher patient satisfaction with facility and increased staff job satisfaction are also potential advantages.

The belief that nature is beneficial for people with illness dates back centuries and is consistent across cultures, Ulrich notes. There are several theories, he says, that attempt to explain people’s affinity for nature.

Learning theories hypothesize that people associate relaxation with nature, for example during vacations. They acquire stressful associations with urban environments because of aspects like traffic, work and crime. Other scientists argue that built environments are overly taxing to people’s senses because of high levels of noise and visual complexity. Nature settings are not as arousing and therefore less stressful.

Proponents of an evolutionary theory believe that humans may have a genetic readiness to respond positively to nature such as vegetation and water because these things were favorable to survival during some two to three million years of evolution.

Whatever the case may be, the capability of gardens to improve health arises mainly from their effectiveness as stress reducing and buffering resources, Ulrich notes.

Stress is a widespread problem for patients, he explains. The vast majority of patients with illness suffer from stress and many suffer from acute stress. Many aspects of hospitalization are stressful to patients, such as impending surgery, pain and unknown diagnostic procedures, depersonalization, disruption of social relationships and job activities. Stress is also a problem for families of patients and healthcare staff.

And while gardens have the potential to help patients and staff cope with stressful scenarios, not any garden will do, Ulrich emphasizes. To be effective in reducing stress, Ulrich has found that gardens must address four main areas: promoting a sense of control, encouraging social support, offering opportunities for physical movement and providing access to natural distractions.

"If a researcher had seriously proposed two decades ago that gardens could improve medical outcomes in healthcare facilities, the position would have met with skepticism by most behavioral scientists and probably with derision by many physicians," Ulrich notes.


Contact: Roger S. Ulrich, 979-845-7009 or via email: ulrich@archone.tamu.edu or Ryan A. Garcia, 979-845-4680 or via email: rag@univrel.tamu.edu.

Ryan A. Garcia | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>