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Gardens have the potential to improve health, research shows

COLLEGE STATION, Nov. 21, 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, elevat
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Contact: Ryan A. Garcia
rag@univrel.tamu.edu
979-845-4680
Texas A&M University
21-Nov-2003


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