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 GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

nachricht Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>