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Healing environment, for healthcare buildings describes a physical setting and organizational culture that supports patients and families through the stresses imposed by illness, hospitalization, medical visits, the process of healing, and sometimes, bereavement. The philosophy that guides this concept is rooted in research in the neurosciences, environmental psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, and evolutionary biology. The common thread linking these bodies of research is the physiological effects of stress on the individual and the ability to heal. Psychologically supportive environments enable patients and families to cope with and transcend illness.
There is considerable confusion about what constitutes a healing environment. Some refer to what we have come to know as "hospitality healthcare design" of the 1980s as healing environments. While some hotels have a high level of design and drama which may be aesthetically appealing, they generally lack those qualities that one would consider to be restorative or conducive to physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. The goal of all healing environments is to engage patients in the conscious process of self-healing and spiritual growth. Spaces are designed to be nurturing and therapeutic and, most important, to reduce stress. This is a research-based approach to design, aimed at eliminating environmental stressors and putting patients in contact with nature in the treatment setting.
Malkin, Jain; Healing Environments at the Century Mark: the Quest for Optimal Patient Experiences; unpublished article by summarizing a presentation given at a mini-course sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and The Center for Health Design, October 2003.
- The Center for Health Design, Nonprofit research and advocacy organization that promotes the use of evidence-based design to create healing environments.