Evidence-Based Design, Healthcare Art, and EDAsurf

What does the evidence say?

The evidence is in and when it comes to healing nature rules.  Since Roger Ulrich’s 1984 study, ‘View through a window may influence recovery from surgery,’ hundreds of similar studies have concluded with similar findings, that we as humans have an innate disposition to see nature and when we do our physiological condition improves.  This conclusion is the bedrock to the approach hospital administration, architects, and interior designers have come to known as Evidence Based Design (EBD).

Improved Patient Outcomes-

Since 1984 thousands of subsequent EBD studies have been conducted.   Many of which have focused exclusively on the role art plays in the healing process.  For example, we know from a study conducted in Sweden by Ulrich that having a patient simply look at a picture of a landscape has the effect of:

-reducing stress levels

-less pain perception are prescribed

-decreasing blood pressure and heart-rate

-reducing skin conductance (Ulrich 1999)

Staff Satisfaction and Public Appearance:

Installing art derived from nature not only enhances the patient experience but improves staff and visitor comfort as well.  For instance a 2007 post-occupancy evaluation of the art program at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston found that Art:

– affected the perception of the quality of care at a hospital

– acted as a de-stressor for staff

– had an impact on the branding of the hospital,

– served as a point of focus and discussion for visitors

– add to the overall appeal of the visual environment


Artwork is often the most visible and noticeable aspect of the visual environment.  Its potential impact on patients, staff, and visitors is immense.  Today, the evidence is unambiguous.  Art depicting the natural aesthetic is the only choice for the healthcare environment.

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