Hospital design changed in the 20th century when hospitals moved from disease and injury treatment centers to health care centers. Credit: Shutterstock

Long before COVID-19 made the public aware of the importance of good ventilation, designers were concerned about how the physical environment is affected well-being and mental health of people.

In the 20th century, the design of the hospital has undergone profound changes. Previously, hospitals were a place only for the treatment of diseases and injuries – or places strongly associated with death.

By the middle of the 20th century, due to medical and technological advances and the growth, development and professionalization of diverse approaches to health care, hospitals have become centers of health systems. Nowadays, hospitals are not just places to treat diseases and illnesses; they are also institutions for promotion physical and psychological health, as well as places of recovery and recovery.

Today, patients expect more than just treatment. As hospital mandates and missions changed, so did the design of hospitals.

Healing environments

To design a healing environment, significant progress has been made supporting the patient’s recovery process. The concept of healing environment puts the patient at the center of the hospital and health design.

To this end, in addition to the clinical needs of patients, their psychological and mental needs should be taken into account in the design process.

For example, empirical research showed that natural daylight, contact with nature and a pleasant indoor environment contribute to a sense of well-being that is beneficial patient recovery.

Physical aspects Hospital interiors can contribute to the positive strengthening of the health and mental state of patients.

Patients’ perceptions of control

Design researcher Roger Ulrich comprehends both physical and social environments in healthcare facilities can affect patients ’well-being, including reducing stress. He calls this theory “auxiliary design.”

According to this theory, all problems and considerations for improving the health environment can be classified into three main areas: the notion of control, social support and positive distraction.

Each of these elements can be seen as an opportunity to improve the patient’s condition spatial experience.

To allow patients to feel a sense of control in their environment, some studies have focused on the importance of mapping and finding a way at the hospital design planning stage, which will more advantageously lead to helping patients orient themselves.

How important the psychological aspects of healing are for hospital design

The terrarium in the foyer of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, seen here in 2014, offers both natural daylight and contact with nature. Credit: Shutterstock

Social support

Access to social support reduces the level of patients psychological disorder during their stay in the environment of the treatment center. This can be facilitated by providing patients with access to private and quiet spaces where they can discuss Personal information or express their needs to family, friends and hospital staff.

For example, the arrangement of furniture that provides acoustic and visual privacy for patients in the hospital public spaces can be an intervention to provide a sense of social support.

Positive distraction

Positive distractions are mostly related to anything that may attract a patient’s attention or interest, leading to a positive state of mind or mood.

Thus, distracting visuals such as TVs, reading materials, houseplants, views of nature or a work of art can greatly contribute to a sense of well-being. Patients can access nature not only through windows with colorful views, but also in paintings or art that depict nature in abstract or realistic styles.

The roles of the patient, family, staff

Patients, families, caregivers and hospital managers can also help create a wellness environment for patients.

For example, as elements of positive distraction patients can bring their own personal belongings to a hospital ward, such as a small plant, a pillow and a blanket or your own reading materials or accessories for arts and crafts.

Families and staff can help create a pleasant environment and space for patients to hang on the wall pictures of patients or desired images.

The design is included in hospital protocols

With adequate resources, health care providers could have more tools to improve patients ’mental well-being through small design ideas that can be incorporated into hospital protocols.

For example, placing a board on the wall of a patient’s room will allow families, patients, and staff to draw nature figures or write positive messages. To help strengthen the patient’s perception of control, hospital staff can draw the patient’s name on the glass window of their room with a smiley face to help them find their room.

Offer social supporthospital managers can provide for free and easily Wi-Fi access or a telephone for patients in all hospital rooms. Curtains or blinds can be viewed in public hospital areas, such as waiting areas, to offer flexibility for patients who prefer to communicate privately with hospital staff or family members.

Including medical staff, patients in development

While patients, staff, and families can help themselves to improve a patient’s spatial experiment, designers must also include them in the design process.

Accordingly, designers and researchers can benefit from this approach to design, which is concerned with the role of medical staff, educators and patients in improving the healing environment in hospitals.

Seeing “green” can alleviate confusion, anger in navigating hospitals, says researcher


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