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 Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain makes mice dumb
19.05.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

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: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>