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 Custom-tailored strategy against glioblastomas
26.09.2016 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New leukemia treatment offers hope
23.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

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: First-Ever 3D Printed Excavator Project Advances Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing R&D

Heavy construction machinery is the focus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s latest advance in additive manufacturing research. With industry partners and university students, ORNL researchers are designing and producing the world’s first 3D printed excavator, a prototype that will leverage large-scale AM technologies and explore the feasibility of printing with metal alloys.

Increasing the size and speed of metal-based 3D printing techniques, using low-cost alloys like steel and aluminum, could create new industrial applications...

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Paper – Panacea Green Infrastructure?

30.09.2016 | Event News

HLF: From an experiment to an establishment

29.09.2016 | Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

First-Ever 3D Printed Excavator Project Advances Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing R&D

30.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

New Technique for Finding Weakness in Earth’s Crust

30.09.2016 | Earth Sciences

Cells migrate collectively by intermittent bursts of activity

30.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>