The importance of nature in our health and wellbeing.
In 1984 research by Roger S. Ulrich, Ph.D., EDAC, showed that patients had more favorable responses when they had views of nature and natural scenery. This included simple changes such as a recovery room with a window with views to the outdoors as opposed to a room with no window. Patients were shown to have favorable aesthetic and affective responses to nature and prefer natural more than urban scenes. Views of vegetation and especially water may elicit positive feelings, reduce fear in stressed subjects, hold attention, and block stressful thoughts.
The results of this seminal evidence-based design study suggested that natural views had therapeutic influences on hospital patients.
Evidence-based design (EBD) is the process of constructing a building or physical environment based on scientific research to achieve the best possible outcomes. Evidence-based design is especially important in evidence-based medicine, where research has shown that environment design can affect patient outcomes. It is also used in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, facilities management, education, and urban planning. Evidence-based design is part of the larger movement towards evidence-based practices.
For most of us, visiting a doctor of any kind usually is not the highlight of our day. It can be a stressful time. We may appreciate our family doctor, dentist, or optometrist, but for most, it can still create some anxious feelings.
It no longer is simply a theory that pictures of natural scenes can help ease patients. Evidence-Based Design is growing in use and necessity. Studies are clear of the beneficial results of introducing nature-based scenes into hospitals, doctors’ offices, and all healing and healthcare settings.
Where can nature scenes provide helpful benefits?
- Healthcare facilities public areas such as corridors, lounges, reception areas.
- Doctor/hospital waiting rooms.
- Clinics – smaller medical practices.
- Patient rooms – Nature introduced into patient rooms can become a strong influence on peaceful relaxation.
- Dentist offices/waiting areas
- Optometrists offices/waiting areas
- Specialty medical facilities
What types of images work the best in healthcare settings?
It’s hard to imagine any nature or landscape imagery that would not provide some benefits. There are classes and types of scenes that have been shown to be more acceptable and possibly more beneficial than others.
Open spaces, lush growing season lands, peaceful skies, and water are some of the top components to consider. All can provide calm and relaxing scenes. When combined they imbue peace and serenity.
Examples of these types of images are photographs of prairies, savannahs, grasslands, rural areas, gardens, wildflowers, forests, woodlands, lakes, rivers, oceans. Of course, pleasant scenery is not limited to images of this type only. All photographs of natural lands and areas can have benefits.
Color can play an important role.
Even though nature is filled with every imaginable color research has shown two basic colors are preferred by patients. Natural blues and greens have been shown to be more calming than most other colors. For nature and landscape photography this is welcoming news. For a photographer based in the tallgrass prairie and vast grasslands of the Kansas Flint Hills, it is a good sign indeed.