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Objective: To present a comprehensive review of the research literature on the effects of the architectural designs of mental health facilities on the users. Background: Using a team of cross-disciplinary researchers, this review builds upon previous reviews on general and geriatric healthcare design in order to focus on research undertaken for mental health care facility design. Methods: Sources were gathered in 2010 and 2011. In 2010 a broad search was undertaken across health and architecture; in 2011, using keywords and 13 databases, researchers conducted a systematic search of peer reviewed literature addressing mental health care and architectural design published between 2005 to 2012, as well as a systematic search for academic theses for the period 2000 to 2012. Recurrent themes and subthemes were identified and numerical data that emerged from quantitative studies was tabulated. Results: Key themes that emerged were nursing stations, light, therapeutic milieu, security, privacy, designing for the adolescent, forensic facilities, interior detail, patients' rooms, art, dementia, model of care, gardens, post-occupancy evaluation, and user engagement in design process. Of the 165 articles (including conference proceedings, books, and theses), 25 contained numerical data from empirical studies and 7 were review articles. Conclusions: Based on the review results, especially the growing evidence of the benefits of therapeutic design on patient and staff well-being and client length of stay, additional research questions are suggested concerning optimal design considerations, designs to be avoided, and the involvement of major stakeholders in the design process. Keywords: Evidence-based design, hospital, interdisciplinary, literature review, post-occupancy.
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MENTAL HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE REVIEW
Stressed Spaces:
Mental Health and Architecture
Kathleen Connellan, PhD; Mads Gaardboe, MA; Damien Riggs, PhD;
Clemence Due, PhD; Amanda Reinschmidt; and Lauren Mustillo
OBJECTIVE: To present a comprehensive review of the research litera-
ture on the effects of the architectural designs of mental health facilities
on the users.
BACKGROUND: Using a team of cross-disciplinary researchers, this
review builds upon previous reviews on general and geriatric healthcare
design in order to focus on research undertaken for mental health care
facility design.
METHODS: Sources were gathered in 2010 and 2011. In 2010 a broad
search was undertaken across health and architecture; in 2011, using
keywords and 13 databases, researchers conducted a systematic search
of peer reviewed literature addressing mental health care and architec-
tural design published between 2005 to 2012, as well as a systemat-
ic search for academic theses for the period 2000 to 2012. Recurrent
themes and subthemes were identied and numerical data that emerged
from quantitative studies was tabulated.
RESU LTS : Key themes that emerged were nursing stations, light, ther-
apeutic milieu, security, privacy, designing for the adolescent, forensic
facilities, interior detail, patients’ rooms, ar t, dementia, model of care,
gardens, post-occupancy evaluation, and user engagement in design
process. Of the 165 articles (including conference proceedings, books,
and theses), 25 contained numerical data from empirical studies and
7 were review articles.
CONCLUSIONS: Based on the review results, especially the growing evi-
dence of the bene ts of therapeutic des ign on patient and staff well- being
and client length of stay, additional research questions are suggested
concerning optimal design considerations, designs to be avoided, and the
involvement of major stakeholders in the design process.
KEYWORDS: Evidence-based design, hospital, interdisciplinary, litera-
ture review, post-occupancy
ABSTRACT
AUTHOR AFFILIATIONS: Kathleen Connellan, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in the
Division of Education, Ar ts and Social Sciences in the School of Art, Architec-
ture and Design at the Universit y of South Australia in Adelaide, South Austra-
lia, Australia. Mads Gaardboe, MA, is the Head of School for the School of Ar t,
Architecture and Design at the Universit y of South Australia in Adelaide, South
Australia, Australia. Damien Riggs, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work
and Social Planning in Social and Behavioural S ciences at Flinders University
in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Clemence Due, PhD, is an Associate
Lecturer and Research Associate in the School of Psychology at the University
of Adelaide in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Amanda Reinschmidt and
Lauren Mustillo are Research A ssistants at the University of South Australia in
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Kathleen Connellan, PhD, Division of Education,
Arts and Social Sciences; School of Art, Architecture and Design; University of
South Australia, City West Campus, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia;
Kathleen.Connellan@unisa.edu.au; +61 8 83 0 2035 5.
PREFERRED CITATION: Connellan, K., Gaardboe, M., Riggs, D., Due,
C., Reinschmidt, A ., & Mustillo L. (2013). Stressed spaces: Mental health
and architecture. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 6(4),
pp. 127–168
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Introduction
e research question identified for this literature review was: How does the
intersection of mental health care and architecture contribute to positive mental
health outcomes? We arrived at this research question because it is sufficiently
focused but still broad enough to incorporate important variables such as differ-
ent models of care.
e University of South Australia’s Mental Health Research Group was the cata-
lyst for the formation of an interdisciplinary team of researchers across architec-
ture, design, mental health practice, and psychology. e team, called “Stressed
Spaces: Mental Health and Architecture,” won two consecutive university fund-
ing grants to conduct research in purpose-built mental health facilities in 2010
and 2011. As part of that collaboration, a survey on the existing literature on the
crossover of mental health and architectural research was conducted. e scar-
city of research literature dealing with both mental health and architecture along
with the specific lack of evidenced-based research was noted, prompting the
team to conduct additional research. In the process, the team wrote this review
article building upon the most recent literature review publications, from Ulrich
et al. (2008) in general healthcare, to Dobrohotoff and Llewellyn-Jones (2010)
on geriatric healthcare.
e objective of this article is to present an updated review of the literature across
health and architecture, but with a specific focus on mental health care and
design in order to make a contribution to this field and assist other researchers,
architects, and clinical practitioners in their quest for improved mental health
outcomes. e multiple considerations in the complex crossover of architectural
design and mental health require multidisciplinary collaboration, as is evidenced
by our team of researchers, policy makers, advisors, and partners. e team com-
prises two architectural firms that specialize in healthcare design, one based in
Australia and the other in the United Kingdom; one experienced architect now
heading the School of Art, Architecture and Design at the University of South
Australia; two social scientists with backgrounds in psychology; one senior men-
tal health nurse; one professor in mental health nursing at the University of
South Australia; and one senior lecturer in design theory at the University of
South Australia, specializing in design and well-being. Such collaborations have
been indicated as an essential aspect of the development of nine more efficacious
designs.
e broad socio-economic and political context factors present at the time this
article was written included the social context of an aging population in most
Western and “developed” countries; the “modern” diseases frequently associated
with those countries (such as depression and mental illness, substance abuse,
diabetes, obesity, heart disease); the political power held by aging baby boomers
(who form a large and comparatively wealthy demographic) to demand compre-
hensive health services; the technological impacts of extending life at all costs;
the costs of providing the expected standards of healthcare; and the attendant
hospital facility construction boom. With these contexts and issues in mind, we
observed the emergence of the following themes from the current body of litera-
ture: nursing stations, light, therapeutic milieu, security, privacy, designing for
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MENTAL HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE REVIEW
the adolescent, forensic facilities, interior detail, patients’ rooms, art, dementia,
model of care, gardens, post-occupancy evaluation, and user engagement in the
design process. From these key themes, we learned that only some (25 of the 165)
research articles generated evidence-based numerical data. From this data, we
also know that the key themes also represent the areas that require more research
as they are identified as crucial to improved mental health outcomes. ere is no
question that the old institutional model of care with its associated asylum-style
architectural design is anathema to mental health practice; however, with the
construction of new facilities, we question the extent to which seemingly inno-
vative designs match contemporary mental health models of care. e gaps in
research represent the lack of reliable post-occupancy reviews of facilities. ere-
fore, this review also questions why that gap exists. Do, for example, ethical pro-
tocols and concerns with qualitative methods on vulnerable populations present
too much of an obstacle for researchers and hospitals?
Of the 165 research articles, seven were literature review articles, published
between 2000 and 2010. e primary reason for writing any literature review is,
of course, to share the state of research on a particular subject with the commu-
nity. However, this is not the sole reason for doing so, and each of the seven liter-
ature review fulfills its own perceived need. Two concentrate upon aged care and
design (Day, Carreon, & Stump, 2000; Dobrohotoff & Llewellyn Jones, 2010),
and the remaining five center on design with different foci: light and lighting
(Anjali, 2006); art (Daykin, Byrne, Soterious, & O’Connor, 2008); safety (Reil-
ing, Hughes, & Murphy, 2008); patient rooms and well-being (Lorenz, 2007);
and evidenced-based design (Ulrich et al., 2008). Each of the review articles
summarizes the recommendations based on previous findings; however, the
findings of these predominantly systematic reviews emphasized to us that this
area of research runs the risk of losing itself in disparate detail. Consequently,
there is a need for more frequent comprehensive reviews of the broad field of
mental health and architecture crossovers in the research literature so as to form
a platform for other more focused and detailed studies.
Methodology
For this article we combined comprehensive and systematic reviews of the litera-
ture on mental health and architecture. e reason for this lies in the two sepa-
rate time periods dedicated to the literature surveys. e first time period (2010)
involved a scoping study, which included architecture and health websites and
did not set dates or tight exclusions for the searches. In the second time period
(2011) we utilized selected databases, set dates, and utilized a defined keyword
search criteria (see Table 1). e initial scoping study resulted in 78 articles, of
which 19 were annotated according to their mental health focus and empiri-
cal/numerical data. On the basis of these findings, we developed a systematic
approach to build upon the first literature search, retaining the articles that pre-
dated the set start dates for the second literature search.
e dates set for searching the literature in the second (systematic stage) were
2000–2011. e keywords used for the searches are listed in Table 1 and the
databases searched are listed in Table 2. e keywords were chosen based on
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our 2010 scoping study as well as those used by other literature review articles
(included for discussion in this article).
In addition to peer-reviewed articles, the team inspected the bibliographical ref-
erences of selected papers, and identified key sources that could be added to
the literature. Other than the search parameters already mentioned, addition-
al exclusions for the searches were (a) government reports and (b) non-English
language texts. Reasons for these exclusions were that government reports had
been included in the initial scoping study and we subsequently found that sig-
nificant findings of such reports were reconstituted into journal articles, and the
language was restricted to English to facilitate understanding in an English-
speaking research team.
Once the literature was collated and annotated, we identified key themes (Table
3); peaks and troughs in publication dates (Figure 1); and expertise and loca-
tion of studies. e 13 major themes which emerged from the literature were
security/privacy; light; therapeutic milieu; gardens; impact of architecture on
mental health outcomes; interior detail/patients’ rooms; psychogeriatric demen-
tia; post-occupancy evaluation; user engagement in design process; nursing sta-
tions; model of care; art; designing for the adolescent; and forensic facilities.
For the purposes of this review article, we have combined and summarized the
themes based on refereed articles and empirical findings; consequently, books,
book reviews, theses, and theoretical papers contribute to the discussion but do
not constitute the core material. We discuss the themes in an order that approxi-
mates (with some exceptions) the significance and visibility of the theme in the
literature. Table 3 details the number of key articles for each theme and whether
those include literature review articles.
Table 1. List of Keywords Used in Searches
Mental health Psychiatry unit Built environment Evidence-based design
Mental illness Psychiatric hospital Therapeutic environments Post-occupancy evaluation
Mental health care Psychiatry Therapeutic gardens Facility design
Mental health facilities Waynding Healing gardens Interior design
Healthcare facilities Architecture Architectural design
Table 2. List of Databases
PsycINFO MEDLINE
MEDLINE Plus Ovid Nursing Database
ProQuest, nursing and allied health source ProQuest, theses
PsycAr ticles Psychology a S AGE full tex t collection
SAGE Health Sciences EBSC Ohost
JSTOR A rts and Sciences I-X Collection Wiley Online Library
Google Scholar
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MENTAL HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE REVIEW
Figure 1 shows that there has been an increase in research in the last 10 years, and
particularly in the past 5 years. e x-axis includes the years when articles that
included architectural design/space in addition to one of the 13 themes listed
on the y-axis. e y-axis illustrates of the amount of articles published on those
themes during those years and not a precise figure. emes have been patterned
differently for visual recognition. Much of this research has concentrated on gar-
dens, interior design, and nursing stations, together with the overall impact of
architecture. e professional and academic expertise of lead authors contribut-
ing to this body of literature is concentrated in the fields of psychiatry (17 arti-
cles) and psychology (16 articles); there are also 17 articles with lead authors from
the field of architecture and 4 from interior architecture. e remaining areas of
expertise show single figures in the number of articles represented for this study
but they include public health, public administration, sociology, nursing, neuro-
science, medical anthropology, health design, forensic psychiatry, engineering,
medicine, arts, and animal behavior. We also noted that research across mental
health and architecture is more concentrated in the United States— California in
particular—Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent Swe-
den, Norway, India, and Israel. e reason for less representation from Europe
in this review may be that we only looked at English language publications for
ease of comprehension.
Security
e theme of security stretches across literature concerning all users of facilities,
including patients, all staff, and visitors. e subthemes emerging from the lit-
erature are spatial analysis and spatial mapping; fit for purpose; violence; crowd-
ing; environmental stress; quality of care; stigma; risk management; nurse safety;
safe practice; and prevention strategies and assessment.
Table 3. Key Themes Found in the Literature
THEME NO. OF AR TICL ES LIT. RE VIEW
1. Security 38 yes
2. Light 24 yes
3. Therapeutic milieu 34 no
4. Gardens 21 no
5. Impact of architecture on health outcomes 15 yes
6. Interior design 11 yes
7. Psychogeriatric 7 yes (x 2)
8. Post-occupancy evaluations 11 no
9. Nursing stations 12 no
10. Model of care 7 no
11. Art 5 yes
12. Adolescents 6 no
13. Forensic psychiatric facilities 2 no
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Kumar and Ng (2011) based their discussion on three background studies. e
first is Haller and Deluty’s 1988 study of 566 psychiatric and 898 non psychi-
atric beds from 16 psychiatric and general hospitals in the U.S., which report-
ed 2.54 assaults per bed yearly among psychiatric wards, compared with 0.37
assaults per year in non-psychiatric units. e second is a 1991 British study
completed by Davis, who collected data over 15 months and reported that the
number of violent incidents in the second half of the study period constituted a
highly significant (240%) increase over the number in the first half. e third
is an American study in which Reid, Bollinger, and Edwards (1985) reported a
32.9% increase in assault rates from 1978 to 1980. ese numbers make it clear
that both patients and staff are at risk from widespread and increasing violence
on psychiatric wards. Crowding appears to be emerging as one of many potential
risk factors for safety issues. Kumar and Ng explain that density, privacy, and
control are major contributing factors because “not only are patients objectively
crowded, but they also may strongly experience subjective crowding in such high
density situations” (p. 434). With density, patients lose privacy and also control
over their immediate environment. is situation can be reversed by incorpo-
rating architectural principles that enhance the therapeutic environment, and
Kumar and Ng cite Gulak (1991) in suggesting “dedicating space for social inter-
action; clearly indicating a room’s intended use; making areas visually distinct
so intended use of different parts can be delineated from their appearance; using
Figure 1. Peaks and troughs of publication dates, grouped by theme.
Number of Articles Published
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MENTAL HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE REVIEW
colors to enhance activities and spaces; using various materials
to provide different tactile and visual experiences; using light-
ing to help define space; and finally, making the spaces that
have special meaning to patients stand out” (p. 434).
None of the above elements (or the lack thereof ) provide the
sole explanation for the violence associated with crowding;
possible reasons can only come from combinations and exam-
ination of specific sites. Kumar and Ng refer to Nijman and
Rector’s 1999 study that found providing additional space on an acute-care psy-
chiatric ward lessened episodes of aggression.
Johnstone (2004) notes that people in ward environments occupy 70% less space
than did their counterparts of 150 year ago. Johnstone drew his findings from
the National Patients Safety Agency’s (NPSA) country pilot audit that revealed
that “out of 1,367 [statutory] mental health notifications, 89% relate to unsafe
ward environments, [and within that 89%] 438 reports relate to violence and
aggression, 300 reports relate to self-harm, 107 reports relate to absconding, and
39 reports relate specifically to the environment” (p. 30). Johnstone does not pro-
vide the additional report details but emphasizes that the goals to be achieved to
ensure fit for purpose are safety, privacy, dignity, and adequate areas for thera-
peutic treatment, and warns that even if a building is “big enough, clean and
beautiful to look at” (p. 1), that cannot be seen as an end unto itself. It must be
adequate in terms of both therapeutical potential and freedom of movement.
Brickell and McLean (2011) focused on patient security in terms of quality of
care, stigma and health outcomes. ey built upon existing research by soliciting
the help of Canadian, Australian, and American mental health care professionals
working in the field of patient health and/or patient safety, which led to inter-
views with 72 participants. ese interviews revealed a diversity of perspectives
on patient safety and mental health but an absence of a clear definition, lead-
ing to the confusion over whose safety is covered by the term. One interviewee
observed that “when you look at patient safety issues … [it’s] about keeping sta
safe from patients, and it’s not about how do we keep the patient safe” (p. 41).
irty-two percent of those interviewed felt it necessary to balance patient safe-
ty with their rights and autonomy. Interviewees also cited such adverse events
as slip-and-fall accidents, concerns about medication and substance abuse, the
potential for self-harm or sexual assault, the issue of smoking and threat of fire,
the risk of leaving the facility without authorization, and harm resulting from
restraints as significant concerns.
Security concerns were also implicated in terms of issues around measures taken
to protect clients from self-harm. For example, Langan and McDonald (2008)
addressed patient dignity via the clothes they are permitted to wear in the units.
In an acute psychiatric inpatient setting in the Republic of Ireland, Langan and
McDonald used a triangulation research design to investigate the prevalence of
attitudes towards the practice of “dressing inpatients in night attire during day-
time despite the lack of evidence to support its benefit in reducing absconding
or self-harm.” Case note reviews from their study revealed a high prevalence of
Not only are patients objectively
crowded, but they also
may strongly experience
subjective crowding in such
high density situations.
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this practice (57%) and its significant association with involuntary admission.
eir results also showed that “nursing staff believed that using night attire was
effective at reducing absconding and self-harm, and that only voluntary patients
should retain the right to choose their clothes. Most patients interviewed were
uncomfortable in night clothes and indicated that they should be entitled to
choose what to wear.” In fact, the researchers observed that, while it may run
counter to the advice of some psychiatrists, it should be noted that “patients may
perceive this as undermining their autonomy” and a different approach may be
“more acceptable to patients and more respectful of their dignity” (p. 223).
Jayaram and Herzog (2008) conducted a study under the auspices of the Com-
mittee on Patient Safety for the American Psychiatric Association in which they
reviewed “SAFE MD”:
S—suicide
Aaggressive behavior and promotion of the safe use of
seclusion and restraints
F—falls
E—elopement
M—complications when dealing with medical co-morbidities
D—drug/medication errors
In addition, this study focuses on safe practice, prevention strategies, and assess-
ment. e results deal with frequency of SAFE MD events applicable to psychi-
atric care. In an analysis of 3,548 events in 2005, the authors noted events that
included suicide (13.1%), medication errors (10.1%), patient falls (5.3%), death
or injury due to the use of restraints (3.9%), and elopement (1.9%).
Commonalities among all publications that relate to safety and security include
the acknowledgment of increased crowding and loss of privacy as a risk factor;
“violence against patients and staff in psychiatric wards is both prevalent and
increasing” (Kumar & Ng, 2001, p. 433); general recommendations are that
standardized, single variable-acuity rooms mean that patients do not have to be
moved when their condition changes, enhancing a sense of normalcy and con-
trolling the spread of infection (where applicable). In addition, visually distinct
spaces ensure that the function of the space is clear.
Light
e second distinct theme that emerged as a significant design feature affecting
mental health outcomes was that of light and lighting. Although we give light
and lighting a separate focus in this review article, it is also the one theme that is
common to all others. A major subtheme is that of natural light, which is linked
to the following issues in the literature: eating disorders, depression, circadian
rhythm, Alzheimer’s disease, sensory stimulation, therapeutic design, and thera-
peutic patient rooms.
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Joseph’s 2006 review of the available literature focused on the impact of light on
outcomes in healthcare settings (without a specific focus on mental health facili-
ties) and divided the findings into several categories. e first category was the
way in which lighting enables accurate performance of visual tasks, logically,
by reducing error. e second was how light affects mood and perception. In
that case, it was noted that positive impacts included daylight and proximity to
windows; alternately, the negative impact of “glare and thermal discomfort on
mood and task performance” were evident. e third category in Joseph’s review
focused on the control of the circadian system, which included a number of ben-
efits (e.g., substantial increases in the quality of sleep and enhanced rest–activity
patterns in patients with dementia). Joseph also mentioned eleven studies that
suggested connections between exposure to bright light and depression; symp-
toms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and the depressive phase of bipolar
disorder were diminished through exposures “between 2,500 and 10,000 lux,”
with the greatest benefits found in the morning rather than the evening. Further,
Joseph cited Beauchim and Hays (1996) as well as Benedetti et al. (2001) as doc-
umenting a connection between exposure to light and the length of depressed
patients’ stays in the hospital.
Joseph referenced the work of Watch et al. (2005) as to bright versus shaded sides
of the hospital in stating that “patients staying on the bright side of a hospital
unit were exposed to 46% higher-intensity sunlight on average; it was found that
patients exposed to an increased intensity of sunlight experienced less perceived
stress, marginally less pain, and had 21% less pain medication costs” (p. 6). e
recommendations for adjusting light and lighting to facilitate good health out-
comes from Joseph’s review pointed to the following: provide windows for natu-
ral light in patient rooms, with provisions for control of glare and temperature;
orient patient rooms to maximize early morning sun exposure; provide high
lighting for complex visual tasks—reduce errors; provide windows in staff break
rooms (p. 9).
In a paper on healing spaces, Schweitzer, Gilpin, and Frampton (2004) noted
the different effects of natural versus artificial lighting on patients, specifically in
the areas of illuminance, uniformity, diffusion, color, and UV radiation. ese,
in turn, affect human chronobiology, contributing to, for example, seasonal
affective disorder (SAD), sleep disorders, and work disruptions. In addition, the
natural circadian rhythm of light regulates melatonin production, influencing
biochemical and hormonal body rhythms. On this topic, Basinger’s (2011) thesis
says that the body’s circadian rhythms are governed by eating and regulation to
natural light cycles; therefore, because eating disorder patients cannot use food
to regulate the body, natural light is a key design consideration. Brawley’s 2001
article in Aging & Mental Health asserted that light requirements for older people
may be five times higher than that of young people. Older adults take between
5 and 30 minutes to adapt to change when entering space with considerably
lower light level, such as entering from outside. Brawley focused on the links
between Alzheimer’s, therapeutic design, and sensory stimulants, saying that
lighting is important for more than just vision, affecting endocrine systems and
producing Vitamin D, as well as other benefits already mentioned. e positive
associations of daylight and routine activities outdoors with sensory stimulation
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and interaction with nature was seen to have a beneficial effect on patients suf-
fering from Alzheimer’s; however, the problem of controlling indoor glare and
flicker were also acknowledged. In a study conducted in a psychiatric hospital
in Edmonton, Canada, over a 2-year period in the late 1990s, Beauchemin and
Hays (1996) observed that patients in brightly lit rooms stayed on average 16.9
days versus19.5 days for those in dimly lit rooms, a difference of nearly 3 days
(2.6 days difference).
Commonalities for all publications related to light include the importance of
controlling the circadian system. Natural circadian rhythms regulate melatonin
production, which influences biochemical and hormonal body rhythms, which
have the following effects upon mental health: reduced depression, decreased
length of stay, improved sleep and circadian rhythm, lessened agitation, eased
pain, and easier adaptation to night-shift work. e interdisciplinary aspect of
light makes it a challenging theme for focused research; for example, Joseph’s
2006 literature review crossed the disciplines of architecture, medicine, psychol-
ogy, ergonomics, and lighting design.
Therapeutic Milieu
e therapeutic milieu incorporates a range of thematic features that overlap
with other key issues but which we combine into a single theme that encompasses
the social and psychological aspects of environmental design. erapeutic milieu
is a term that is also interchangeable with patient-centered design and healing
environments. Consequently, the subthemes included here are both numerous
and varied; they include rehabilitation, best practice considerations, ambient fea-
tures, social features, nursing stations, staff perceptions, program evaluation,
the Planetree approach, positive design, multidisciplinary input, architectural
change, and psychiatric intensive care units.
Novotna, Urbanoski, and Rush (2011) focused on staff perceptions and program
evaluation in client-centered design of residential addiction and mental health
care facilities. ey discussed the findings of a 3-year series of focus groups, con-
ducted both pre- and post-occupancy between 2007 and 2009, using mixed-
method evaluation of clinical programs in a large mental health and substance
abuse facility in Canada. e main priorities of their research were (a) the impact
of the physical design on clients and service delivery; and (b) the impact of physi-
cal design on the working environment. Positive outcomes and perceptions from
the focus groups made repeated reference to comfort, abundance of natural light,
freedom, reduced stigma with new spatial designs that mimicked a “normal”
community setting and an enhanced sense of well-being; however, these were
partially balanced with negative outcomes and perceptions around limited sta
space and the ability to share confidential information, and staff concerns due to
reduced sightlines to clients as a result of the changes meant to facilitate greater
movement among staff and clients.
Golembiewski (2010) looked at the significance of architectural design in psy-
chiatric care facilities and analyzed the architectural elements that may influence
mental health. He explored Antonovksy’s salutogenic theory “that better health
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results from a state of mind which has a fortified sense of coherence” (p. 100)
from an architectural perspective. From a psychiatric point of view, the saluto-
genic perspective is that the relationship between a patient and environment is
understood as being transactional and not fixed. Generally salutogenic now indi-
cates a focus upon holistic human wellbeing rather than disease cause and effect.
In this way, Golembiewski notes the environment should ensure that perceptual
cues are present to assist perceptual processes; clear textures, objects and lines
should prevent the possibility of perceptual distortion and ambiguity. Object
comprehension is manufactured through filters of memory, culture and epis-
temology; therefore, the environment should be familiar to psychotic patients
as this helps stabilize both comprehension and delusions. Such an environment
should mimic a safe and cozy home where noise is kept to a minimum; echoes,
as well as repetitive sounds, should be eliminated as much as possible as this
exacerbates delusional “voices.” In terms of control and meaningfulness, the
salutogenic approach should encourage day to day “outside”
domestic tasks (cooking, washing) and limit the number of
people in shared spaces. e outside world should not be sepa-
rated from the patient. For that reason, access to nature, pets,
and supported communication with family and friends is
essential to rehabilitation. To this end, environmental stimu-
lation should provide sensory gratification.
Stichler’s (2008) article, “Healing by Design,” reviews the Planetree approach
to architectural design. is is not dissimilar to Golembiewski’s (2010) inter-
pretation of the salutogenic model; however, Stichler’s work does not focus on
mental health as such. She states that architectural aspects of healing environ-
ments include those elements that create an optimally restful patient environ-
ment. ese components include views to the outside or, if that is not possible,
at least images of nature; adequately sized bathrooms; extra seating provided
as an alternative to the bed; reduced noise levels; a variety of lighting options;
comfortable room temperatures; and close attention paid to aesthetics. And for
“staff, designs should address: the work flow process of caregiving to minimize
the steps necessary to secure supplies and equipment; safety features that reduce
employee injuries resulting from repetitive movement, patient lifting, mobiliza-
tion, and transfers; visual access of patients from nursing stations or documenta-
tion alcoves; security designs to enhance protection of staff from hostile visitors;
and staff stress reduction with the design of respite rooms (quiet, meditative envi-
ronments)” (Stichler 2008, p. 507). ese features incorporate some of the nine
Planetree elements of patient-centered care, which are:
1. Human interaction
2. Consumer and patient education
3. Healing partnerships with the patients’ family and friends
4. Nurturing through food and nutrition
5. Spirituality
6. Human touch
7. Healing arts and visual therapy
[B]etter health results from a
state of mind which has a
fortied sense of coherence.
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8. Integration of complementary therapies
9. Healing environments created in the architecture and design of the
healthcare setting (p. 504)
e Planetree elements and the salutogenic model are commensurate with the
aims of e Center for Healthcare Design’s Pebble Project (http://www.health-
design.org/pebble) as well as models for “new residentialism” and “critical region-
alism,” as explained in Verderber and Fine (2000). All of these approaches strive
to move away from both the bureaucratization locked into some of the architec-
tural language of modernism (Verderber & Fine, 2000) and to depart completely
from conservatism of the institution.
Karlin and Zeiss (2006) reviewed environmental and therapeutic issues in psy-
chiatric hospital design over the 50 years prior to their article and noted several
considerations for best practice, including patient-centered design; ambient fea-
tures; architectural features (physical plan, layout, size and shape of units); social
features; and nursing station design and placement. ese authors recommended
the enhanced privacy associated with single rooms and private visiting areas that
facilitate intimacy but noted that unit design should also encourage family par-
ticipation and group activities. ey mentioned that gardens and views of nature
serve as positive distractions. In terms of interior design, furnishings should be
such that they have minimal institutional connotations, and they observed that
while the studies of the optimum choices for wall color show inconsistent results,
blue tones can be calming and bland color schemes and trendy palettes should be
avoided. ey also suggested that it is important to incorporate spatial flexibility
into design and that social features are also applicable to staff, who require loung-
es and/or a garden to promote their own communication and job satisfaction.
e theme of the therapeutic milieu in healthcare design, particularly mental
health care design, is even more dependent upon multidisciplinary expertise
than other themes. is is not a recent realization, and papers from the late
1990s include research findings regarding multidisciplinary input to design,
architectural change and positive outcomes that have remained relevant. For
example, Gross, Sasson, Zarhy, and Zohar (1998) review empirical studies and,
in particular, one case study of a psychiatric hospital in Israel where design and
execution was conducted by a multidisciplinary team of architects, psychiatrists,
and other mental health professionals and administrators. e major design goal
was for the “humane, efficient containment and reduction of severe psychopa-
thology. Here it was the role of psychiatrists and other mental health workers
to redirect the focus of ward design to the patients and their families” (p. 108).
As a result, design elements included no overcrowding so that patients were not
forced to interact with too many people; provision of a variety of spaces that
supported social interaction; an abundance of “classical” daylight and fresh air;
openness of design to encourage staff to leave the nursing station and spend more
time in the day room; meticulous care of buildings and grounds to reduce van-
dalism; easy observation of patients; and segregation of staff work and rest areas.
Dix and Williams (1996) made recommendations for the design of psychiatric
intensive care units, suggesting that the sites/wards should be on the ground
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floor with access to enclosed gardens with standard fencing or hedges; that they
should have a separate entrance, and corridors should be wide enough to accom-
modate four abreast; there should be a good-sized quiet recreation room away
from the day room and that numerous corners and corridors should be avoided.
ey recommended disturbance buttons, louver-type observation panels in bed-
room doors that are operable from outside, and vandal-proof light fittings, but
also advocated fixtures and fittings that provide a homely environment.
Mazuch and Stephen (2005) explained how the London-based architectural
firm, Nightingale Associates, combined psychotherapeutic methods with tra-
ditional architectural methods to create healing healthcare environments. e
authors dubbed this “humanistic architecture,” which “draws on international
research in the fields of psychology and sociology, biology and physiology into
the effects of the environment on health” (p. 48). ese architects used emotion-
al mapping based, in general, on all the senses but also on colors associated with
the predominant emotional response aroused in particular areas. For example,
they noted that blues have been indicated to subdue aggressive individuals and
“visual monotony can contribute to physiological and emotional stress” (p. 50).
In terms of touch, Mazuch and Stephen noted the important role this can have
in the recovery of patients, as surfaces help to “re-engage with the materiality
of the world” (p. 50). ey emphasized that perceptual confusion should be
avoided (e.g., a wood-grain finish on a metal door would give inaccurate sen-
sory information because a metal door will be heavier and colder than would be
expected with a real wooden door). As to sound, excessive noise has implications
for increased heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and blood cholesterol; they
stressed that hard materials absorb less noise. e architects noted that smell can
relax muscles and aid concentration; pleasant smells help produce endorphins
and can decrease heart rate. Further, they noted the hypothesis that pleasant
smells can reduce the amount of anesthetic administered during surgery (p. 50).
In the areas of light and nature, Mazuch and Stephen observed that a lack of
windows and connection to the outside world can heighten stress and depression.
To reiterate, the commonalities across the literature on providing a therapeutic
milieu through the design of facilities for mental health care focus on the ele-
ments of light; adequate personal, communal, and work space; home-like com-
fort; and access to gardens.
Gardens
e theme of gardens includes open spaces within the precincts of the hospital.
Subthemes include therapeutic gardens, Alzheimer’s facility, historical perspec-
tive, moral therapy, landscapes, therapeutic relationships, natural environments,
directed attention, attention restoration theory, restorative experience, stress,
nurses, evidenced-based design, and environments for renewal/stress relief. e
theme of gardens is not confined to mental health care design per se because the
healing garden is emerging as a topic for mental health in the context of general
healthcare as well. It is therefore a holistic theme that, due to its very nature, is
highly relevant to mental health care.
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Hartig and Marcus (2006) recognize that the concept of healing is not synony-
mous with cure; clearly, gardens are not curative and misconceptions concern-
ing this notion should be avoided. However, they note that “healing gardens …
are allied with a broad conception of health, one that recognizes that a person
can move between greater and lesser degrees of health along diverse physical,
mental and social continua” (p. S36). ey offer several recommendations as
to the structure of such healing gardens—there should be an absence of harsh
noises and unwanted demands, landscape architects with knowledge of heal-
ing plants should be employed to translate medical approaches. Unfortunately,
as the authors note, “sadly, many opportunities to make gardens available have
been wasted” (p. S37). is is something that Connellan et al. (2011b) also found
in their ethnographic observations of a purpose built mental health unit in Aus-
tralia. e upkeep and expense of gardens are mentioned as deterrents for their
wider use.
In the subthemes of nurses, evidence-based design, and envi-
ronments for renewal/stress relief, Naderi and Shin’s (2008)
study offers useful information concerning the benefits of
outside spaces in a medical environment. ey conducted a
two-part nursing staff survey in the United States based on a
landscape design project at a healthcare center in Texas. e
results of Naderi and Shin’s survey showed that the availability of an outside
space was important to those nurses surveyed; 88% said it was important to get
outside during their workday and nearly all of the participants felt it was import-
ant for their co-workers to get outside. Favorite activities included sitting (25%),
walking (21%), and eating (10%). Nine percent expressed the need to be close to
nature and get some sunshine and fresh air, while others went out to be social,
with 18% going outside to talk to friends and 3% to engage in people watching.
However, the survey found that 52% of nurses went outside to be alone and if
nurses did go out in a group, it was with one (26%) or two (20%) other people.
e need for some improvements in existing outdoor spaces was noted: 54%
didn’t use the courtyard when it rained; 44% didn’t use it when it was too hot
or sunny; 23% didn’t use it due to lack of seating; 16% because the entrance was
sometimes blocked; and 11% because they felt privacy was compromised. As a
result of the survey, two courtyard garden designs were proposed and, incorpo-
rating nurses’ responses to the proposals, landscape architects designed a court-
yard garden primarily for their use.
In terms of the specific needs of psychiatric patients, the writings of Clare Hick-
man (2005, 2009) provide a particular perspective based on moral therapy and
historic associations with landscapes and gardens. In the 2009 article, Hick-
man draws upon English Romantic poetry, landscape painting, and the Pre-
Raphaelite art movement in the 19th century to develop her arguments on the
important relationship between mental health and nature. She refers to poets’
and artists’ beliefs in the “morality” of the landscape and the potential of natural
environments for the prevention of what was considered to be “immoral” behav-
ior. Hickman discusses in detail themes such as the Garden of Eden and being
in nature as providing a closeness to God, a rural work ethic, and the romantic
notion of man in and of the landscape. She refers to Louis James’s “Lines Com-
“[S]adly, many opportunities
to make gardens available
have been wasted.
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MENTAL HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE REVIEW
posed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” regarding civilization and industrial-
ization bringing about insanity because of the exodus from the rural idyll. Her
2005 article refers specifically to the large old parks and gardens of the 18th and
19th century asylums. e moral therapy that was part of those asylums’ treat-
ment protocol was focused on the placement of a patient in a carefully designed
environment and seeking to minimize physical restraints. It was believed that
viewing the landscape had positive effects on the patients and therefore buildings
were designed so the landscape could be viewed from inside the building as well.
Design features included verandas, conservatories, airing courts, ornate aviaries,
pagodas, and even a Chinese gallery; however the cost of creating complex land-
scapes restricted such designs to institutions accommodating a wealthy clientele.
e presence of the gardens can be one of the most positive aspects of psychiatric
treatment. Curtis, Gesler, Priebe, and Hickman (2009) noted that in the post-
asylum age of mental health care, long-term patients were known to return to
the asylums in which they were housed in order to walk in the gardens because
of an attachment to and their positive associations with the therapeutic benefits
of such places (citing Parr, Philo, & Burns, 2003).
In one article that emerged from the initial scoping study, “the restorative bene-
fits of nature” are discussed in terms of developing an integrated framework that
concentrates on directed attention, attention restoration theory, and restorative
experiences for health outcomes (Kaplan, 1995). Kaplan included three com-
ponents that are necessary for the restorative experience: “being away,” which
implies not merely entering a new setting, but instead a change that “involves
a conceptual rather than a physical transformation” (p. 173); an environment
that is rich but that maintains coherence; and compatibility between the envi-
ronment and one’s own goals. In reference to attention restoration theory and
the natural environment, and drawing upon further empirical evidence to sup-
port nature as a restorative element, Kaplan noted that being in nature requires
less effort than being in a “civilized” environment; that intervention measures
suggest that the use of nature as a restorative method have longer term benefits
and participants were more likely to, for example, start new initiatives after the
intervention.
e area of mental health aged care and gardens has a growing body of evi-
denced-based research but Heath’s (2004) research is particularly useful for the
design of Alzheimer’s facilities. Heath looked at post-occupancy studies that
had been done to evaluate the therapeutic qualities of gardens and gardening in
an Alzheimer’s facility. It is a multilevel care facility in British Columbia, Can-
ada, which opened in 1995 and has eight courtyard gardens. e interview data
revealed that 75% of visitors reported feeling more relaxed and calmer and 25%
felt refreshed. e gardens were designed with five major goals:
1. To provide a safe outdoor environment;
2. To provide a place for reflection;
3. To provide a place for relaxation;
4. To provide a place for socialization; and
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5. To provide a place for people to maintain the hobby of gardening
(2004, p. 239).
e results of the post-occupancy evaluation showed that of the respondents,
83% visited the gardens and 96.5% of those liked them. Additional information
from this study included that 80% of respondents said the aims of the gardens
were met, except for providing a place for people to maintain a gardening hobby,
as the gardens were already fully planted with no free space; and more family
members used the gardens than did patients or staff, with suggested reasons
being that some patients are not independently mobile, staff lacked the time to
do so, or family members found the gardens a relaxing way to relieve the stress
of ailing family members. ere were also recommendations for improvements,
such as the use of signs, maps, and automatic doors to increase access and aware-
ness; further education of both staff and volunteers; the need for lawns where
families could gather rather than areas dominated by paths and garden beds;
leaving space for residents to create their own gardens; a lack of spontaneity in
the plantings; and a lack of flexible, multi-use spaces.
Common points of discussion across the literature include the use of the various
uses of gardens, access issues, retreats for staff, and specifically designed gardens.
The Impact of Architecture on Health Outcomes
e fifth theme is another general category and although it would be ideal to
have each theme discreet and separate, as was the case with “therapeutic milieu,”
there were too many articles that centered on one issue and merely mentioned
others. erefore, while this theme does overlap with others, its focus is largely
on the impact of architecture on health outcomes. Among other issues, this
category of publications addresses aesthetics and sensory stimulation as well as
spatial design. e subthemes include mental health services, psychiatric care,
salutogenic theory, sense sensitivities, emotional mapping, physiological respons-
es, psychological responses, design models, evidenced-based healthcare design,
and healthcare quality outcomes.
By far, the most extensive and influential research on the impact of architecture
upon health outcomes is that of Ulrich and his colleagues, specifically, their
2008 comprehensive review of the research literature on evidence-based (gen-
eral) healthcare design published in this journal, Health Environments Research
& Design Journal (HERD). is review by Ulrich et al. expanded on a previous
(2004) review, especially in relation to the scale of hospital-acquired infections.
e keywords in Ulrich’s 2008 review were “evidence-based design, hospital
design, healthcare design, healthcare quality, outcomes, patient safety, staff safe-
ty, infection, hand washing, medical errors, falls, pain, sleep, stress, depression,
confidentiality, social support, satisfaction, single rooms, noise, nature, and day
light.” e three main areas of focus were patient safety, other patient outcomes,
and staff outcomes. Although this review was on general health, we regarded it
as a strong foundation for the work that needs to be done in the area of men-
tal health care. Ulrich et al. tabulated their findings (p. 148), showing where
empirical studies have revealed relationships between particular design factors
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MENTAL HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE REVIEW
and healthcare outcomes. Ulrich’s table also indicates where “is especially strong
evidence (converging findings from multiple rigorous studies) indicating that a
design intervention improves a healthcare outcome” (p. 148). Single bed rooms,
natural and appropriate lighting, and nature views are the three most significant
design factors that contribute to positive health outcomes. For example Ulrich
et al. showed that patient privacy and confidentiality as well as communication
improves with single bed rooms; day and appropriate lighting contributed posi-
tively to 14 of the 16 health outcomes listed; and nature views contributes signifi-
cantly to reduced pain and stress and also to five other health outcomes (p. 148).
Ulrich et al. (2008) used a two-step approach to their review, and one upon
which, to some extent, we modeled our own review. For the Ulrich study,
the first step was a 32-keyword search across the literature and then a cross-
referenced search using Ebsco Host, which enabled the search of multiple data-
bases. is was supplemented with searches through ISI Web of Knowledge and
Google Scholar to obtain additional sources from reference lists. eir second
step or stage involved screening all identified references using two criteria: that
the study “should be empirically based and examine the influence of environ-
mental characteristics on patient, family, or staff outcomes;” and, “that the qual-
ity of each study was evaluated in terms of its research design and methods and
whether the journal was peer-reviewed” (p. 102). eir report was organized
according to three types of outcomes:
1. Patient safety issues, such as infections, medical errors, and falls.
2. Other patient outcomes, such as pain, sleep, stress, depression, length
of stay, spatial orientation, privacy, communication, social support, and
overall patient satisfaction.
3. Scientific research relevant to staff outcomes, such as injuries, stress, work
effectiveness, and satisfaction (p. 103).
e authors noted the increasing number of rigorous studies across design and
healthcare but also observed that, despite this, “it is also important to address
the limitations of the quality of existing evidence [because] in medical fields, a
randomized controlled trial or experiment is considered the strongest research
design for generating sound and credible empirical evidence [but Ulrich et al.’s
review] found relatively few randomized controlled trials linking specific design
features or interventions directly to impacts on healthcare outcomes” (p. 103).
Dennard’s (1997) review of David Halpern’s book, More Than Bricks and Mor-
tar? Mental Health and the Built Environment, although written some time ago,
highlights the publication of a book that is rare in this cross disciplinary field.
Dennard reviewed Halpern’s approach of cause-and-effect associations of the
built environment according to the following four categories: as a source of
stress; as an influence over social networks and support; through symbolic effects
and social labeling; and through the action of the (building) planning process
itself. Creative conflict often arises in finding a balance between what is best for
the patients, how the community perceives the design, and health and building
regulations and policies. e perfect patient facility may not be feasible due to
conflicts between the these factors.
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Golembiewski’s previously mentioned (2010) theoretical
study on salutogenics in architectural design for psychiatric
care used Antonovsky’s Salutogenic perspective, and specifi-
cally that the patient and environment are understood as being
transactional, to inform his analyses. Golembiewski acknowl-
edged that salutogenics do not replace evidence-based studies
but said that in the absence of evidence-based design for mental health facilities,
applying salutogenics “in a methodological way” can provide a useful framework
for informing architects regarding the functionality of facilities and improving
mental health outcomes (p. 100). Acknowledging that unwell people do not nec-
essarily adapt easily, Golembiewski suggested that “the salutogenic model seems
an appropriate broad framework in which to locate the stress model because it
supports the stress model with much needed substance; effectively filling the
causation gap between action and effect” (p. 103). erefore, although patients
might not always adjust well to innovations, if the environment can be designed
to change for and with the patient’s sensory and perceptual abilities, positive out-
comes could result. Golembiewski drew upon Hall (1975) in that “perception
is a complex neuro-chemical process that is highly reactive to the surrounding
environment and yet it is the only channel for receiving new information of any
sort” (p. 103). With this in mind, the author explained the comprehensibility
of the salutogenic model as providing perceptual cues to assist the perceptual
processes and providing an environment that is ubiquitous and desirable and is
understood through the familiar and which can help stabilize comprehension
and delusions. In terms of manageability of the model, it is important to allow
patients to control their environment though meaningfulness. is goal can be
attained by “enriching the environment with complexity, order and aesthetic
considerations” (p. 114); allowing pets and personal items on the premises; and
providing a stimulating milieu.
In their assessment of the role of environment on behaviors, actions, and inter-
actions, Schweitzer, Gilpin, and Frampton (2004) focused on physiological and
psychological responses. e authors hypothesized “a hierarchy of effect of envi-
ronmental elements ranging from simply nontoxic to safe (both physically and
psychologically) to ‘providing a positive context’ to being actively salutogenic”
(p. S71). is article, published in The Journal of Alternative Medicine, advocat-
ed design to facilitate intention and awareness; wholeness and energy; healing
relationships; health promotion; and collaborative treatments. Schweitzer et al.
presented the existing research in terms of physical parameters, and as includ-
ing the following preferences in a healthcare setting: smells, noise, temperature,
environmental complexity, fresh air and ventilation, color, nature, art/aesthetics
and entertainment, and nursing stations.
In terms of personal space, there is a preference for single rooms; patient satisfac-
tion is related to perceived pleasantness of décor, cleanliness, courtesy of house-
keepers, temperature and noise, and (citing Kaldenberg, 1999) “how well things
work” (p. S73). As with Mazuch and Stephen (2005), Schweitzer et al. noted that
existing literature reveals the importance of the sensory environment in terms
of smells, saying that pleasing aromas may reduce blood pressure, slow respira-
tion, and lower pain perception levels, while unpleasant odors stimulate anxiety,
It is important to allow patients
to control their environment
through meaningfulness.
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MENTAL HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE REVIEW
fear, and stress. ere was also some evidence that (a) excessive noise increases
patients’ length of stay as well as causing interruption of sleep and increased
stress; (b) environments with greater complexity correlate with greater cognitive
functioning and beneficial physical activity in the elderly; and (c) sensory varia-
tion in ambient conditions between spaces and over time is preferred by building
occupants. e authors’ comments on light are covered in the “Light” section of
this article, above.
e viewing of nature was dealt with separately from the experiencing of nature.
Regarding the former, Schweitzer et al. noted Ulrich’s (2008) points concern-
ing the lack of a window, which may have a negative effect by reducing positive
stimulation and aggravating the negative effects of sensory deprivation; access
to views of nature with gardens, through windows and in artwork, can reduce
stress; and patients residing in units without windows developed more symptoms
of depression. In terms of actually experiencing nature, the literature reported
evidence of “lowered stress and muscle tension” (Schwetizer et al. 2004, p. S76)
and fewer incidences of violence. Indoor plants were also shown to be beneficial.
As to the last theme, Schweitzer et al.’s literature review included a section related
to arts, aesthetics, and entertainment. Here, a preference was shown for visual art
encompassing nature images, positive facial expressions, and depiction of caring
relationships, whereas ambiguous or abstract imagery was shown to have nega-
tive outcomes. Schweitzer et al. also pointed to research that demonstrates the
positive effect of music on health and also positive distractions such as humor
and entertainment, which may lead to greater optimism, socialization, coopera-
tion, and decreased dependence on medication. ese authors also covered nurs-
ing stations (see “Nursing Stations,” below).
Commonalities in the literature on the impact of architecture on mental health
outcomes include:
Perceptual cues assist the perceptual processes, help avoid confusion.
Enriching the environment with complexity, order, and aesthetic consid-
erations is beneficial.
Access to nature can have positive mental health outcomes and add com-
plexity and stimulation.
ere is a general preference for single rooms.
Smells: pleasing aromas may reduce blood pressure, slow respiration, and
lower pain perception levels; unpleasant odors stimulate anxiety, fear,
and stress.
Access to views of nature with gardens, through windows and in artwork,
can reduce stress.
Interior Design
is theme relates specifically to interiors; subthemes of varying importance
include interior design and furnishings, interior design and color, wayfinding,
cognitive mapping, spatial organization, and type of patient room (multi-occu-
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pancy, semi-private, and private). Lorenz’s (2007) integrative research review,
“e Potential of the Patient Room to Promote Healing and Well-Being in
Patients and Nurses,” addressed the issue of multi- and single-occupancy patient
bedrooms in general healthcare. Within this study, Lorenz synthesized empiri-
cal and chiefly quantitative studies on patients’ rooms in the acute care hospital
in terms of “promotion, maintenance or restoration of healing and well-being
for patients” (p. 263). Lorenz also focused on patient outcomes and the ability
of nurses to provide optimal care. Studies deemed relevant fell into three general
categories related to the patient room type:
1. Clinical outcomes
2. Patient perceptions
3. Staff perceptions
Outcomes were generally measured in length of stay, utilization of narcotics, and
physiological and behavioral responses. Lorenz concluded that the gaps in the
literature related to room type and impact on patient falls and medication errors;
and how room type relates to specific patient populations and impacts on their
clinical outcomes. She also noted that further study is required to expand the
study of room type to include the design of the patient care unit.
Vaaler, Morken, and Linaker (2005) conducted a carefully controlled study in
the acute care Østmarka Norwegian psychiatric hospital between 2000 and
2001. Vaaler et al. wrote that in the 140,000 catchment area of the city of Trond-
heim, “600 patients above 18 years suffering from acute psychiatric conditions
are admitted each year” (p. 20). e researchers conducted the study in a unit
that had been refurbished 4 years prior; the traditional interior design consist-
ed of grey colors, no window curtains, a single lamp in 4-meter-high ceilings
and tubular metal beds and chairs. In close collaboration with architects, one
of the wings was redecorated and refurnished to make it look like a standard
Norwegian home, with the goal of allowing a comparison between the symp-
toms, behaviors, treatment, and relative satisfaction of the patients staying in
the traditional area as opposed to those housed in the redecorated wing. is
involved “colorful wallpaper and paintings on the walls, lowering the ceilings
and installing multiple lighting spots, tastefully curtaining the windows, putting
wardrobes, chairs, flowers and personal items in the patient rooms and Italian
ceramic tile covered the entire bathroom” (p. 21), while the other wing was left
unchanged. e findings included “no negative effects of changing to a more
pleasant and home-like environment” (p. 22); non-significant tendency toward
symptom amelioration in the traditional wing; creating a pleasant environment
does not generally increase length of patient stay; and there was a “complete lack
of vandalism” (p. 23) on the new side. e authors concluded that “interior and
furnishing like an ordinary home … created an environment with comparable
treatment outcomes to the traditional dismal interior, and had positive effects
on many patients’ well-being, at least among the women” (p. 19). And although
the outcomes were not markedly different, the researchers emphasized that they
… find little to justify the often-dismal interiors of wards used to seclude severe-
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ly mentally ill patients. is practice should be abandoned unless there are very
specific reasons to introduce it for special cases” (p. 24).
Salmi’s (2008) comments on wayfinding for people with disabilities, although
not focused on the hospital environment or mental disabilities specifically, threw
light on universa l applications for developing better way finding in interior design.
She concentrated on spatial organization—architectural features, destination
zones, spatial overview opportunities and overall layout—advocating landmarks
that are distinct in shape and color and with appropriate signage. For example,
signage should be properly designed and well-placed. It should be perpendicu-
lar to the line of travel and at eye level for wheelchair users; the readability must
be legible, incorporating large text and high contrast with the background; it
should designed mindful of glare and paired with a graphic image. Color should
reinforce links with the environment; directories should cluster information, be
accompanied by graphics, use simple color coding, and be placed in relation to
the specific floor. Maps should be less cluttered—“You Are Here” designations
are of the greatest importance.
e most telling studies are possibly those that have been able to map behavior
through pre- and post-renovation data. Devlin (1992) reported on such a study
involving four psychiatric wards in New England in the late 1980s; changes were
made to interior decorating including color schemes/painting, indoor plants,
new furniture, bathroom renovations, and similar minor works. e method was
primarily an environmental design survey that involved staff rating design fea-
tures; these ratings were analyzed and combined with observations and behavior
mapping. Devlin emphasized patient population and seasonal variation (warm
weather) as a determining factor in understanding reactions and movements in
a spatially altered and renovated area; however, there was sufficient data to indi-
cate a decrease in stereotypic behavior among patients and improved staff morale
after elements such as wallpaper, live plants, increased light, colored walls, and
upholstered furniture replaced the previous spaces that had green and gray walls
and “mismatched vinyl-covered chairs” (p. 71).
Psychogeriatric
Research literature on aged care is growing with the worldwide concern about
a huge aged population in the coming decades, one which will put pressure
on both the social and economic infrastructures. It is therefore not surprising
that the impact of facility design in psychogeriatrics is an area that has seen
two literature review articles within the last decade, those of Dobrohotoff and
Llewellyn-Jones (2010) and Day, Carreon, and Stump (2000). Subthemes that
emerged from both include psychiatry, violence, design, dementia, and ther-
apeutic design. Dobrohotoff and Llewellyn-Jones focused more on psychiatry
and violence in psychogeriatric units (PGUs), noting the historically deleteri-
ous effect of hospital environments on psychiatric patients, where depressing
environments convey regression and loss of control and present as intimidating
for patients and families. ey searched the databases of Medline (1950–2010),
psycINFO (1806–2009), EMBASE (1980–2009), and CINAHL (1982–2009)
for literature concerning PGU design, from which they reviewed 200 papers,
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including some government reports and non–peer-reviewed articles. ey note
that “there are few good quality studies to guide the design of acute PGUs and
much of the existing literature is based on opinion and anecdote or, at best, based
on observational studies. Randomized controlled studies comparing different
designs and assessing outcomes are virtually non-existent” (p. 1). With regard to
violence, these authors show that in the literature they reviewed, 18% of demen-
tia patients were violent during admission, specific factors relating to prevalence
of violence were not well-studied, and staff working in noisy conditions with
poor lighting were more likely to be assaulted (citing Soares, Lawoko, & Nolan,
2000). As to trauma, 34% of post-discharge patients “felt frightened, unsafe, a
sense of intrusion and lack of privacy, disgust and embarrassment, powerlessness,
and feeling undermined at some time during their hospital stay” (p. 3). ere
had been no systematic research into the effect of various ward environments on
patients’ experiences; the loss of self-esteem, patients’ sense of self-worth, inten-
sified psychiatric symptoms, and a reduction in patient’s participation in their
care may be caused by “sanctuary harm” (citing Robins et al., 2005). Dohrohot-
off and Llewellyn Jones make the following recommendations for designing the
optimal physical environment:
• Optimize patient and staff safety, manage patients’ physical health,
design a productive ward environment.
Ensure access to a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) or high depen-
dency unit (HDU).
Provide space—a garden, a quiet area, a seclusion suite, an activity and
games room.
Include separate bedrooms with louver-type observation panels, doors
that open two ways, vandal-proof dimmer light fittings, and safe fixtures
and duress alarms.
Design an environment that is secure, structured, with minimal stimula-
tion, non-intrusive, and supportive.
Create a design that facilitates patient observation as well as high nurse-
to-patient ratios.
Facilitate limited use of restraints and seclusion.
Make it possible for cognitively impaired patients to be segregated from
those who are not cognitively impaired.
Create separate male and female sections.
Provide direct access to usable outdoor space.
Have clear indications for the intended use of each area or room.
Optimize the location of nurses’ station to enable direct line of sight to
as much area as possible.
Ensure locked doors on secure wards.
If possible create good external visibility and access to public
transportation.
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In addition, design should incorporate deinstitutionalizing features such as:
Separate living and treatment areas.
e elimination of long echoing corridors and highly reverberant spaces.
Residential features such as a laundry and galley kitchens.
Reduced psychopathology among younger patients facilitated by design
solutions that encouraged social interactions: ward kitchen, an open
nursing station, and a dayroom module for crafts and other occupational
therapy activities.
e second, earlier literature review (Day et al. 2000) on psychogeriatrics focused
specifically on therapeutic design and dementia. ese authors commented on
the problem of small sample sizes in studies on design and dementia, noting
that more than 30% of the studies reviewed used samples of fewer than 30 par-
ticipants (p. 398), with many including fewer than 10. With respect to this fac-
tor, it should be noted that the majority of studies Day et al. looked at in their
600-paper review article were qualitative, where small sample sizes are accept-
able. Despite this, they mentioned the increased rate of research on design and
dementia, from 6 research reports from 1981 to 1985, to 17 research reports from
1986 to 1990, to 26 research reports from 1991 to 1995, and 21 research reports
already published since 1996 (p. 398). Day et al. provided a useful table that lists
all the papers reviewed with summaries for each. Sections include:
1. Concept and focus of study;
2. Research design;
3. Sample information;
4. Outcome measures of well-being;
5. Physical environment features; and
6. Major findings of environmental impacts on well-being.
e authors’ method for collecting papers to review stipulated empirical findings
as one of the criteria. eir findings can be summarized as the benefits of group
living for patients with dementia; the disorienting problems with changes to
their environment; the benefit of reduced use of psychotropic drugs and a decline
in behavioral disturbance in Secure Care Unit (SCU) design that showed clearly
colored wayfinding, names on doors, photos of family, separate activity areas,
secure exits and closets, visual tapes across glass, and appropriate sound proof-
ing; other aspects such as the benefits of nature and natural light, recreational
activities and personal as well as gendered spaces were shown to be beneficial to
both staff and patients.
Commonalities across both of the Dobrohotoff and Llwellyn Jones (2010) arti-
cles and the research of Day et al. (2000) included security issues, gender sepa-
ration, and gardens.
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Post-Occupancy Evaluations
Post-occupancy evaluations (POEs) are rarely carried out, yet it is known that
architectural designs for mental health care contribute to mental health out-
comes; therefore, in order for these results to be positive for both the patients
and the community, it seems strange that evaluations are not routinely carried
out and the results disseminated. Carthey (2006), in conjunction with the Uni-
versity of New South Wales (UNSW) and the New South Wales (NSW) health
department in Australia, conducted research into the reasons for the lack of
POEs and worked toward establishing a standardized model for post-occupancy
evaluations across healthcare. Carthey offered three different types of evalua-
tions, which might sometimes be confused:
1. Post-occupancy evaluations (POEs)—e process of examining and
evaluating the functioning of a building in a systematic way after com-
pletion and occupation (from 12 months to 2 years) (p. 58).
2. Post-implementation review (PIR)—“e last step in the process,” which
includes closure of the “feedback loop” that takes lessons from previous
projects (p. 59).
3. Post-completion review (PCR)—A systematic comparison of original
brief and objects with the actual outcomes (p. 62).
Although Carthey does not state this specifically, “POE” is the most commonly
used term encompassing all three.
e complexity and variables present in healthcare design evaluations give rise
to subthemes across the literature reviewed for this article: interdisciplinary
research; evidenced-based design; environment and behavior; occupant’s feed-
back/users’ needs; psychiatric unit; serious game; service planning; and ser-
vice users. Some of the publications concentrated on suitable methodologies
for conducting evaluations, and all agreed that interdisciplinary research and
input is essential (Marmot, 2002; Veitch, 2008; Vischer, 2009; Whitehead, Pol-
sky, Crookshank, & Fik, 1984). However, Veitch notes that interdisciplinary
research presents barriers such as different disciplinary cultures and professional
“languages” and that parties are required to challenge institutional policies that
may hinder collaboration such as the choice of journals in which to publish
results, academic publication rates, the ability to write for peer reviewed journals,
and promotion opportunities.
Marmot (2002) noted that the relative scarcity of evaluative research on build-
ings may be related to cost, fear of negative outcomes, perceived uniqueness of
buildings—lessons learned in one location for particular set of consumers may
not be applicable elsewhere—,and determining what conclusions to draw amid
many variables and influencing factors. erefore, Marmot said that assertions
of design briefs are rarely tested properly.
e title of Liddell’s 2010 article in Health Estate, “Good Data Critical to a Suc-
cessful Outcome,” speaks for itself. Liddell examined what to look for in devel-
oping a POE process for large hospital environments, what is actually required to
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perform a rigorous POE, and what can be expected from the process. e goals
of Liddell’s project on post-occupancy strategies to arrive at the best process for
critique involved documenting generic project information to enable compari-
son of similar sized projects; reviewing the planning and construction phases
of the project; reviewing the operation of the facility and the communications
strategy; and providing comment on the current NSW POE Guidelines. Liddell
detailed the reasons that POEs are not pursued more effectively, observing that
“the Government even has a manual on the subject … which itself notes that
there are a number of reasons why post-implementation review is not pursued
more effectively” (p. 26). ese include the temporary nature of teams involved;
3- to 5-year timeframes between feasibility and occupancy; the changeabili-
ty of factors such as service delivery, budgets, political climate, the economy,
unwillingness to criticize participants, budget shortfalls; and the inability of
the asset management to engage in effective critical examina-
tion and evaluation. Liddell’s recommendations included the
active involvement of key staff and stakeholders throughout
the planning process and continuing through every stage of
the project, implementing document management systems
and initiating POEs before the project team disbands.
Vischer’s (2009) review article on designing intelligently and designing intelli-
gent buildings stated that when POE studies are conducted, the “voluminous
amount of research findings lie unread on desks or are published in academic
journals that practitioners seldom read” (p. 240), also that designers frequently
go to new sites, measure in accordance with number of users, and therefore resort
to reinventing the wheel. While Vischer did not discount the usefulness of tradi-
tional POEs that ascertain the effectiveness of a building by gathering informa-
tion from users and testing hypotheses, she emphasized that “in the real world”
the newer focus on evidence-based design (EBD) is a better option. She there-
fore compared the POE process with EBD, using healthcare design as one of her
two areas of focus. Vischer cited her own 2008 research, noting that an inherent
deficit of the POE approach is that this form of measurement measures “people’s
preferences and perceived needs rather than the effectiveness of building design
and operation decisions” (p. 242); further, she argues that the traditional POE
accumulates building users’ subjective likes and dislikes, information that is not
helpful to designers who need to know exactly how aspects of the building func-
tion. In contrast, “evidence based design has evolved out of the precedent set by
evidence-based medicine” (p. 242). erefore, if both the methods and results of
EBDs are targeted, their uptake by both designers and healthcare professionals
is more purposeful and the outcomes are arguably more accurate.
In an older study (but one directed specifically at a 30-bed psychiatric unit),
Whitehead, Polsky, Crookshank, and Fik (1984) considered the “Objective and
Subjective Evaluation of Psychiatric Ward Redesign.” ey posited four psy-
choenvironmental hypotheses for evaluation:
1. Environmental alteration correlates with changes in social behavior.
2. Environmental alteration correlates with altered spatial distribution of
behavior.
Evidence-based design has
evolved out of the precedent
set by evidence-based medicine.
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3. Environmental alteration correlates with reduced psychopathology.
4. Social organizers may be used to focus the alterations in therapeutic and
socializing ways.
ese authors assessed a unit that had been redesigned in accordance with psy-
choenvironmental principles as they aimed to ascertain the effectiveness of such
an approach. Using behavioral mapping derived from ethological studies among
psychiatric patients, the researchers mapped and recorded the movements and
behavior of patients in particular parts of the wards and whether they presented
pathology. e observation was detailed and noted the following behaviors in
areas such as hallways, sitting rooms, etc.: head even, looking at person, oriented
toward neighbor, sitting quietly, talking, or no pathology. eir conclusions were
positive in terms of clinical outcomes but limited; the authors noted that length
of stay was not reduced substantially by the redesign and that the results would
have been more informative if patients could be returned to the older designed
units and observed there.
A recurring theme through the literature on post-occupancy evaluations is that
of the patient/user engagement in process of design. While users have been
engaged, this happens to varying extents, and there are fluctuations in the
degree to which their recommendations are applied. Fitzgerald, Kirk, and Bris-
tow (2011) described and evaluated “serious game intervention to engage low
secure service users with serious mental illness in the design and refurbishment
of their environment” (p. 316). e advantages of a serious game (defined as a
game that has a useful purpose or models real life situations) “lie in the famil-
iarity of its format, its non-threatening facilitation of communication and the
creative and fun approach to serious issues” (citing Lamey & Bristow, 2007).
is self-selecting process of engagement resulted in 25 of 30 service users par-
ticipating in the game. Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly posi-
tive. e use of the serious game format has potential for mental health services
to successfully engage service users in collaborative dialogue such as treatment
planning, illness education and recovery. “e game begins, similar to the ‘Go’
square in ‘Monopoly’ and as in real life on the ward, at the airlock square. Instead
of streets, as in Monopoly there were themes that were grouped in accordance
to questions and issues submitted by staff, architects, management, estates and
builders” (p. 318). Simple questions such as “what would you like in a dining
room” and “how would you like your medication dispensed” were some of the
questions used in the game, with prizes as is the case with most board games.
Fitzgerald et al. wrote that these service users had not been part of the original
design decisions and management wanted to know what was working or how it
could be improved; previously, the meeting and consultation style of communi-
cation to obtain feedback from users had not proved successful and the resulting
information from the game was better. e authors said that the game removed
barriers present in the meeting style consultation and recommended that these
games be used earlier and specifically in the design conceptualization stage of
projects.
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Nursing Stations
In terms of physical spatial design, nursing stations (also often called “duty
stations”) emerge as the single most significant factor in mental health facility
design. Issues in nursing station design overlap with security and models of care;
therefore, the subthemes include nurse-patient relationships, staff safety, space
and control, and function and work environment.
Andes and Shattell (2006) explored “the meanings of space and place in acute
psychiatric settings, to discuss how these meanings affect human relationships,
nurses’ work environment and patients’ perception of care, and to present how
the design and use of nursing stations affects therapeutic relationships” (p. 699).
ese authors concluded that the generally positive features of nursing stations
and space control include the fact that nurse-only and patient-only spaces are
beneficial to both groups and positive nurse-patient interactions “increased dra-
matically” after redesigns that “include more private areas for nurses” (p. 702).
And in terms of negative design outcomes of nursing station design and space
control, Andes and Shattell determined that, in the minds of both patients and
nurses, psychiatric patients cannot and will not respect the nursing station as
a work area. e physical barriers used in the design of nursing stations rein-
force the idea that they are off-limits to patients and impede the development
of interactions. Andes and Shattell affirmed that psychiatric
nurses had few meaningful interactions with patients because
of interpersonal barriers (e.g., an impoverished view of person-
al efficacy) and organizational barriers (e.g., short lengths of
hospitalization and high patient acuity). ese authors stressed
the “hospital should be designed in such a way as not only to
serve as a temporary home [for psychiatric patients], but its
environment should aid recovery” (citing Shrivastava, Kumar,
& Jacobson, 1999, p. 703).
Brown (2009) noted that, while the objectives of the nursing station is to make
staff feel safe, open areas are essential to “encourage interactions between patients
and sta” but that “staff must have a private space where they can retreat and
conduct administrative tasks” (p. 22). is reiterates Connellan, Due, and Riggs’
(2011b) note that, in an ethnographic observational study of a recently complet-
ed purpose built mental health unit, the design of the nursing station combined
intense administrative activity with patient interaction with the result inade-
quate patient-staff communication. Brown identified that the optimal design
of the nursing station needed to incorporate appropriate seating, stimulants,
acoustics, and size to suit the intended function of the space and to place thera-
py spaces close to nurse stations. A sense of boundary to the patient is necessary
but there still needs to be high visibility.
Karlin and Zeiss (2006) noted that open nursing stations have been recommend-
ed by several sources; they refer to Edwards and Hutts (1970) findings of “sig-
nificant positive psychological, behavioral, and social effects after the removal of
glass partitions from psychiatric unit nursing stations. Patient requests of nurs-
es at nursing stations were dramatically reduced, as were the negative beliefs of
those patients, and improvements in ward milieu and patient-staff communica-
They found signicant positive
psychological, behavioral, and
social effects after the removal
of glass partitions from
psychiatric unit nursing stations.
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tion were also noted” (p. 1378). Karlin and Zeiss wrote that “available reports of
experiences with open nursing stations do not support concerns of patient abuse
of increased access to nurses, although additional empirical research on this issue
is needed. Contiguous, secure, closed to patients, is recommended to maintain
confidentiality of patient records” (p. 1378). ese authors observed that, prior
to the dawn of effective psychoactive medications, closed nursing stations were
the norm, but they fostered a perception that the staff members were inaccessible
and welcomed neither patients nor visitors to their environs.
Schweitzer, Gilpin, and Frampton (2004) reported that large centralized nursing
stations separated from patients by half-walls or glass partitions that are located
some distance from the rooms of the patients “clearly distance staff members
from patients, sending the message that they are busy and inaccessible” (p. S78).
ese authors stated that “a decentralized nursing work station that is small,
open and located outside clusters of 46 patient rooms, with the main nursing
station completely open to patients, suggest[s] that healing is a collaborative pro-
cess and not something exclusively under the purview of ‘professionals’” (p. S78).
e above research, published in the last 6 years, differs from some of the ear-
lier studies, which did not use ethnographic observational studies or include the
views of the patients and their families. For example, a study that came out of our
original scoping of the literature asserted that the positioning of the nursing sta-
tion should allow observation of all patients, use one-way mirrors, and surround
the nursing station with Plexiglas. In that study, a survey of nurses’ attitudes pro-
posed strengthening of windows for the station and improved sound-proofing of
quiet rooms (Dix & Williams, 1996).
e commonalities for all publications which relate to nursing stations include
the need for discreet and separate spaces for nurses and other staff to relax and
also for spaces away from patients where they can attend to administrative tasks.
In addition, open areas are necessary to encourage interactions between patients
and staff because closed nursing stations often convey an image of staff inacces-
sibility and are not welcoming to patients and visitors.
Model of Care
e literature shows that the numerous types of models of care are one of the
chief reasons for the complexity in designing for mental health care (Cleary,
Hunt, O’Connor, & Snars, 2010; Costello, 2007; Killpsy, Ritchie, Grerr, &
Robinson, 2004). Subthemes emerging from the literature include phase of ill-
ness model of care, therapeutic space, inpatient care, bio-psycho-social approach,
built environment, length of stay, homelessness, and engagement.
Cleary, Hunt, O’Connor, and Snars (2010) shared their findings on the Concord
Centre for Mental Health’s new “phase of illness” model of care, asking wheth-
er this is the direction in which we should be moving. e professionals at the
Centre had come to question their traditional approach to mental health treat-
ment, “rehabilitation and acute psychiatry were perceived as dichotomous … [i]
npatient rehabilitation was something to which a person was referred … after all
other avenues had been exhausted” (p. 247). eir main points included attempts
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to integrate “early intervention” approaches into the philosophy of a large insti-
tution to provide services responsive to the different phases of a patient’s illness;
the need to combine management of risk and vulnerability with an emphasis on
the patient’s experience and “journey” to recovery; to acknowledge the prevalent
levels and ranges of disability; and to discount the perception “that ‘rehabilita-
tion’ should be targeted at only those with severe levels of disability” (p. 247).
Costello’s (2007) thesis advocated for an architecture that balances supervision,
treatment, freedom, and community integration, and noted the problems with
current models of mental health care facilities, hospitals, independent living situ-
ations, and group homes include being insufficient as a continuum of care model
for mentally ill patients; hospitals disregard therapeutic qualities of long-term
care centers (focus on stabilizing and releasing); other options such as living
alone or in a group home eliminate medical stability and enhance patient inde-
pendence, but without sufficient connection to therapy; and group homes can
be problematic as they can act as small isolated islands within the community.
Key design principles recommended were:
Balance between connection with the community and retreat.
Retail as a buffer between life in the facility and life in the
larger community.
Integrated building form (fits into the existing urban landscape).
Interactive wayfinding.
Facility design should support multiple levels of interaction.
Fitzpatrick’s (2007) study addressed mental health care from a bio-psycho-social
perspective, one that aims to treat the patient holistically, using psychological
therapy including individual therapy and spirituality as well as social network-
ing, and which includes group and family therapy in a community. Fitzpatrick
noted that personal visual elements may ground a person’s sense of self, and a
sense of self can add to the experience of space. In addition, being able to with-
draw is important as well as aiding a person with self discovery.
Length of stay in healthcare is a significant factor in terms of demand for beds
and economic factors but short lengths of stay do not necessarily equate with
recovery or a stable condition, and this is particularly significant in mental health
care. Frank and Lave (1986) provided an analysis that showed that the treat-
ment of psychiatric patients and their length of stay responds strongly to finan-
cial incentives. eir analysis focused on the U.S. Medicaid program, a federally
supported, state-administered program that pays for medical care provided to
eligible low-income individuals and families.
Aligned to economic issues and length of stay in mental health care is that of
homelessness, Killapsy, Ritchie, Grerr, and Robinson’s article was aimed at the
assessment of “whether admission to a designated ward for the homeless men-
tally ill improves outcomes 12 months after discharge in terms of housing sta-
bility and engagement with services” (2004, p. 593). ey found that, although
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the idea of a designated ward seemed the best alternative for a population that
was both mobile and resistant to services, those admitted were no more likely to
be discharged or to move on to or remain in stable housing than were those in
the control group, although this might be explained by the patients’ compara-
tive degree of ingrained homelessness. However, there was an improvement seen
in engagement with services for those who were admitted as well as diminished
issues with medication non-compliance.
Art
is theme includes a systematic literature review article by Daykin, Byrne, Sote-
rious and O’Connor (2008) on the impact of art, design and the environment on
mental health care. Daykin et al. reviewed over 600 papers published between
1985 and 2005, including discussions of contextual and policy literature, as
well as 19 reports of quantitative and qualitative studies. eir inclusion criteria
were international papers on arts, architecture or design initiatives in healthcare;
papers on participatory arts in healthcare; artists in residence; and intervention
studies. Exclusion criteria were not relevant to arts or design initiatives in health-
care; not relevant to participatory arts in healthcare; art forms (music, drama,
play, dance); art therapy where art was a purely diagnostic intervention; patient
arts; not English language; and pre-1985.
e authors revealed that there are few studies that directly examine arts inter-
ventions and a notable absence of evidence-based studies. Of these studies, two
are reviews, one does include art therapy but specifically its effect upon schizo-
phrenia; Daykin et al. explained that the “methodological challenges of evaluat-
ing the clinical effects of art, design and environment are illustrated in a report
[that of Ruddy and Miles, 2005] of a systematic review of art therapy for schizo-
phrenia” (p. 87). e other review mentioned is that of White and Angus (2003),
Arts and Adult Mental Health Literature Review.” ey also noted small sample
sizes, which make it difficult to detect significant results. However, a key finding
of one empirical study by Staricoff and Loppert (2003), who measured psychoso-
cial effects after art interventions, was that “depression and anxiety were respec-
tively 34% and 20% lower where intervention had taken place than with groups
not exposed to arts” (p. 88). Eight studies examined the impact of environmental
conditions, sometimes taking into account aesthetics as well as functional con-
siderations; two studies used structured assessment tools to evaluate healthcare
facilities (Daykin et al. 2008, p. 88).
e authors pointed out the issue of differing perspectives regarding art among
the various stakeholders in mental health care, stating the “[w]hile there is some
convergence of agendas, the growth of the arts for health agenda has raised chal-
lenges. First, there is a need to identify the respective contributions of the var-
ied disciplines involved in arts for health. As well as art therapists, an increasing
number of stakeholders are involved in projects, such as arts agencies, artists,
community arts workers and designers. ese groups may draw on different
perspectives when it comes to artworks and environments in healthcare” (p.
86). ese authors acknowledged the limitations of their own study, notwith-
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standing their efforts to make the selection transparent through software such
as REFworks.
Nanda, Eisen, Zadeh, and Owen (2011) published a paper focusing on the
“Effect of Visual Art on Patient Anxiety and Agitation in a Mental Health Facil-
ity and Implications for the Business Case,” which was aimed at investigating
“the impact of different visual art conditions on agitation and anxiety levels of
patients by measuring the rate of pro re nata (PRN) incidents and collecting
nurse feedback” (p. 386). e results did indeed show a substantial effect of the
nature of the displayed art work on the amount of PRN medication dispensed for
anxiety and agitation, being significantly higher when abstract art was featured
than when the patients viewed a realistic landscape. ese results were comple-
mentary to those of a 2008 study conducted by Nanda, Eisen, and Baladan-
dayuthapani at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas, in which
“[i]mages selected covered a wide range: pure, contemporary abstract with non-
representational graphic forms; classic works of art from grandmasters such as
Van Gogh, Chagall, and Klimt, which used representational forms; and final-
ly, stylized nature images. Only one of the seven images was a realistic image
of nature” (p. 276). Patients were encouraged to comment on their subjective
experience of the art works rather than judge them. Two questions were asked:
“How does this painting make you feel?” and “Would you hang this picture in
your room?” (p. 285), with answers on a Likert scale. “Hospital in-patients con-
sistently preferred images of realistic art with nature content over images that
were stylized or abstract” (p. 295), as opposed to the students from a neighbor-
ing university who rated stylized and abstract images highly. Patients rated the
autumn waterfall image as their highest preference overall.
e subthemes coming out of all the literature are art in a healthcare setting,
design, environment, visual art, and nature. Commonalities across the literature
relate to the therapeutic benefits of visual art in healthcare environments.
The Adolescent
Many mental health and other health facilities focus on a specific population,
usually children, adults, or the aged. erefore, the needs of young people who
are subject to extreme bodily changes in their bodies and their lives during their
adolescent period are a crucial category for study, particularly in terms of treat-
ment for mental illness.
Subthemes emerging from the literature include hospital design, family-centered
care, visual preferences, and evidenced based design.
In his 2010 article in Behavioral Healthcare, Huffcut asks if design can actually
promote healing, and then answers that question through the use of research in
evidence-based design (EBD) and how its principles can be utilized to “sculpt
the space within long-term facilities to better meet the needs of adolescents”
(p. 33). Huffcut cites surveys of adolescent inpatients conducted by an architec-
ture design team concerning their preferences in the design of the facility. eir
suggestions, which included “calm down” spaces with in-depth, lifelike imagery;
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the use of cool colors (blue and purple); increased daylight; and varied seating
options (with males in favor of seating placed around the television), coincided
with features suggested by previous EBD research.
In Blumberg and Devlin’s (2006) study, they observed that the needs of a sick
child are quite different from those of adults, and to meet those needs, “the
design of pediatric therapeutic settings differs greatly from those in adult or
general care facilities” (p. 296). ey too made use of a survey to ascertain the
preferences of adolescents, should they require hospitalization. According to the
majority of the young participants, access to a television (97%), music (96%),
and a telephone (95%) was of utmost importance. To explain these choices,
the authors cited the research of Brown, O’Keeffe, Sanders, and Baker (1986),
which demonstrated that, for young people, the most common coping measure
in stressful situations is attention distraction, which can be provided easily by
television, music, and conversations with friends.
In terms of spaces beyond their rooms, Blumberg and Devlin’s research revealed
that an area in which to visit with friends was of a high priority; “a gym or exer-
cise room to work out in was selected by 82% of participants, and an accessible
kitchen was selected by 79% of participants” (p. 310). ey also addressed ado-
lescent need for privacy, stating that [t]he specific developmental traits of ado-
lescents seem to call for distinct amenities, such as private bathrooms, single
rooms, and comfortable full-coverage pajamas, to provide for the expression of
identity” (p. 315).
In the thesis, “View Out of a Window: Visual Preferences of Dually Diagnosed
Adolescents Residing in Group Homes,” Boggavarapu (2002) observed that the
adolescents surveyed had very distinct preferences in terms of what they saw
every day from the windows of the facility in which they resided: medium veg-
etation was preferred over dense or sparse vegetation; they wanted variety—
plants, trees, bushes, shrubs, vegetation with fruits, flowers, vegetables, and
greens; some form of body of water was a favorite, with a pool the most preferred
choice; “houses” were the most preferred kind of building, beating stores, play-
grounds, schools, roads, and offices. Almost two-thirds (62.2%) of participants
wanted equal proportions of vegetation and buildings. Research from previous
studies showed nature was always preferred over man-made; this study indicated
they were desired equally.
It should be kept in mind that it is possible that results of this study are not
consistent with earlier studies. ere are two plausible reasons for this: first, the
earlier studies were conducted on mentally normal people and this sample of
population would not be considered “mentally normal.” Second, familiarity and
preference can be both positive and negative, depending on the context. It’s pos-
sible that dually diagnosed adolescents whose group homes are generally built
away from residential communities may prefer man-made settings.
Commonalities for all publications relating to designing for adolescents relate to
the need for connection with the outside world.
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Forensic Psychiatric Facilities
e last key theme in this literature review is that of designing for forensic psy-
chiatric facilities. Key themes emerging here are architectural design, safety, pri-
vacy, and escapes. Commonalities for all publications relating to the designing
of forensic psychiatric facilities include a comfortable domestic scale and ambi-
ence; security; a pleasant, domestic atmosphere that is well-lit by natural light;
and ample space for the patients.
In their study, Dvoskin et al. (2002) addressed the requirement for a secure
forensic psychiatric hospital as derived from the preferences of professionals in
that field. According to those surveyed, design considerations should include
ambience and a comfortable domestic scale, the use of good lighting, bright
colors and subdivided spaces, and a safe environment that promotes both pri-
vacy and observability and fosters the acquisition of skills. In addition, designers
should be mindful of the fact that one of the most significant stressors in prisons
or psychiatric hospitals is the virtually constant level of noise; anything that can
be done to buffer excessive noise would be very helpful. In terms of organization
of space, the best design would offer “a compromise between staff efficiency and
a reasonable therapeutic milieu;” it was believed that this could be “achieved
with relatively smaller social units” that afforded a reasonable degree of freedom
to the patients (p. 490).
Enser and MacInnes (1999) examined a serious issue concerning secure facili-
ties: the link between building designs and escape. eir research revealed that
the primary areas mentioned when discussing escapes are perimeter fencing,
roofs, and internal and external windows. ey found that security breaches
and building design correlated, in that units with design problems are units that
experience a greater number of escapes, and escapes becomes much less likely the
higher the garden fence. Design features that add security without compromis-
ing patient care include secure bedrooms overlooking an inner courtyard, any
covering of that courtyard modified by a feature that cannot be climbed, fencing
with a double overhand, the installation of closed circuit television, airlocks and
alarms on exit doors, and new and secure window fittings.
Conclusion
e research question that led us to review the literature was, How does the
intersection of mental health care and architecture contribute to positive mental
health outcomes? Our combined comprehensive and systematic review of the
literature revealed 13 major themes. In order of prevalence these are (1) security/
privacy; (2) light; (3) therapeutic milieu; (4) gardens; (5) impact of architecture
on mental health outcomes; (6) interior design; (7) psychogeriatric; (8) post-oc-
cupancy evaluation,; (9) nursing stations; (10) model of care; (11) art; (12) design-
ing for the adolescent; and (13) forensic psychiatric facilities.
e themes overlap and some statistics apply to several themes. However, for the
purpose of some clarity, we will summarize according to themes. e first theme
comprises security, violence, privacy, and overcrowding, showing that people in
ward environments occupy 70% less space than their counterparts of 150 years
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ago (Johnstone, 2004). Violence against patients and staff in psychiatric wards is
widely prevalent and increasing (Kumar et al., 2011). is has important impli-
cations for the architectural design of psychiatric units, including the impor-
tance of demarcated spaces for particular activities and extra space provided
where possible.
e second theme, light, includes natural light and artificial lighting. e pri-
mary findings here were the importance of light for controlling the circadian
system thus reducing depression, agitation, sleep, eating patterns and also easing
pain in some instances. Patients in brightly lit rooms stay on average 2.6 days less
in hospital than those in dimly lit rooms (Beauchemin and Hays, 1996). Signifi-
cant differences were found between natural and artificial lighting including for
both staff and patients, for example, a lack of natural lighting can cause seasonal
affective disorder (SAD), changes to hormonal body rhythms, glare and flicker,
work disruptions, increased staff stress, and decreased staff satisfaction (Ulrich
et al., 2008; Schweitzer et al., 2004).
e third theme of the therapeutic milieu includes therapeutic design and
environments; patient-centered design; healing environments, especially the
Planetree approach, and positive design (Stichler, 2008); and the need for a mul-
tidisciplinary approach to healing. is theme overlapped extensively with the
fourht theme, regarding gardens and contact with nature. e fourth theme of
gardens is revealed as extremely important for both patients and staff for renew-
al/restoration of attention, stress relief, and for its social aspects, with evidenced-
based research showing high percentages to support this (Naderi & Shin, 2008).
e fifth theme, the impact of architecture on health outcomes, also overlaps
with other themes but the literature shows that architecture can enrich the envi-
ronment with complexity, order, and aesthetic considerations offering perceptual
cues to assist and avoid confusion. Access to nature and sensory/salutogenic con-
siderations (Golembiewski, 2010) are important themes within this literature as
is the need for privacy and a preference of single bedrooms.
e sixth theme of interior design, which includes the subthemes of furnishings,
color, wayfinding, cognitive mapping, spatial organization, and type of patient
room, shows the need for clear visual communication balanced with a home-like
environment (Lorenz, 2007).
e seventh theme is that of psychogeriatric considerations, which include
dementia, violence, and trauma as major subthemes that highlight the need for
quiet spaces and gardens, with an emphasis on deinstitutionalizing design fea-
tures to encourage social interactions (Dobrohotoff & Llewellyn-Jones, 2010;
Day, Carreon, & Stump, 2000).
e eighth theme of post-occupancy evaluations (POEs) deals with the lack of
effective evaluations in health architecture generally and mental health partic-
ularly. e literature calls for an interdisciplinary approach to POEs, using evi-
dence-based design including building performance factors but also with the
specific need for occupants’ feedback (Carthey, 2006; Liddell, 2010).
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MENTAL HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE REVIEW
e ninth theme is that of nursing (duty) stations. e effectiveness of the nurs-
ing station is addressed by the literature, with nurse-only and patient-only spaces
found to be beneficial to both groups. Closed nursing stations often convey an
image of staff inaccessibility to patients and visitors (Andes & Shattell, 2006).
e tenth theme, model of care, incorporates several subthemes such as the bio-
psycho-social approach that deals with the patient holistically, length of stay,
personal visual elements in the environment, and homelessness. e literature
shows the need for a balance between drug-therapy, environmental context and
psychological and social therapy and interactions (Cleary, Hunt, O’Connor, &
Snars, 2010).
e eleventh theme is the role and importance of art, not only as an activity but
also as an aesthetic therapy. Daykin et al. (2008) note that few studies directly
examine arts interventions, however a key finding is that depression and anxiety
were 34% and 20% lower, respectively, in contexts where patients were exposed
to arts.
e twelfth theme, of designing for the adolescent mental health patient, is one
that highlights the need for maintaining connectedness to the outside world,
including family-centered care; the role of visual preferences, including medi-
um density gardens with water; as well as the need to keep personal items, have
access to movies, and have private bathrooms (Huffcut, 2010).
e thirteenth theme is forensic psychiatric facility design. Here the subthemes
include safety, privacy, and escapes. e literature emphasizes a pleasant domes-
tic atmosphere that is well-lit with natural light and provides ample space for
patients (Dvoskin et al. (2002).
Finally, the literature shows that there is a need for more research concerning
evidence-based design, and for user input into design across all themes. Despite
the noted difficulties with post-occupancy evaluations there is a need to have an
evidence base in terms of design for mental health units.
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... Literature examining effects of the built environment on mental health documented associations between features, such as lighting, views, daylight, layout, crowding, and noise, and outcomes relevant to members, such as safety, cognitive functioning, productivity, stress, depression, behavioral disturbances, and psychosocial processes (e.g., control, social interaction, privacy, and restoration from stress and fatigue) related to mental health [46][47][48][49][50][51][52]. Other literature on mental and behavioral health (MBH) facilities found that well-maintained, residential, and homelike-rather than institutional-environments, safety, security, aesthetics, attractive furnishings, daylight, and visual and physical access to nature were associated with positive outcomes including addressing psychological needs, satisfaction, and perceptions of care [42][43][44][52][53][54][55][56][57] among patients, residents, and staff. Environments designed to facilitate control, choice, accessibility, social interaction, and a sense of community were also associated with positive benefits [42,[52][53][54]. ...
... Existing tools from the MBH literature [65] can be adapted for use in Clubhouse settings, and informed by principles of universal design, trauma-sensitive design, and restorative design [52]. Restorative design elements [55,66], including biophilic design that emulates aspects of nature in the built environment [67], offer additional guidance and research questions for Clubhouse members, staff, researchers, and designers. ...
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Clubhouses are non-clinical, community-based centers for adult members with serious mental illness. The evidence-based model assists adults with identifying employment, housing, education, and social opportunities; wellness and health-promoting activities; reducing hospitalizations and criminal justice system involvement; and improving social relationships, satisfaction, and quality of life. The model enables member participation in all Clubhouse operations, yet offers little guidance concerning facility design and member engagement in the design process. This case study explored the use of participatory design research exercises to (1) document member needs, preferences, and priorities to inform the design of a new midwestern U.S. Clubhouse facility and (2) meaningfully engage members (n = 16) in the design process. Four participatory design research exercises were developed, administered, and analyzed. Results revealed aesthetics and ambience; safety and security; ease of use and maintenance; adaptability, flexibility, and accessibility; and transportation as future priorities. Space and furnishing needs and priorities were also identified. Informal observations and participant feedback suggested that the participatory exercises meaningfully engaged members in a manner aligned with Clubhouse Model principles by centering member dignity, strengths, and work-oriented expectations. Future directions for research on Clubhouse design and member engagement in the design process are also discussed.
... In the mental health care sector, certain aspects of facility design have been associated with aggressive behaviours, stress levels, use of restraint and seclusion, length of stay, mental health outcomes and resident and staff wellbeing (Connellan et al., 2013;Oostermeijer et al., 2021;Ulrich et al., 2018). The notion of therapeutic design refers to design that is conducive to the mental health, wellbeing and rehabilitation of its residents. ...
... The notion of therapeutic design refers to design that is conducive to the mental health, wellbeing and rehabilitation of its residents. Common design elements that have been related to mental health outcomes include: access to daylight, natural lighting and glare; reduced noise levels; adequate privacy, 'home-like' (as opposed to institutional) features; and access to gardens and nature (Connellan et al., 2013). Similar design features were identified by the Wellbeing in Prison Design project, that sought to develop an evidence base for improving prison design through the application of environmental psychology (Bernheimer et al., 2017). ...
... research informed by health architecture theory highlights the importance of considering both patient and employee experience of health space. 18 Systematic reviews relating to pharmacy public health services have identified a range of perspectives and experiences; however, these have not focused on the effects of pharmacy spaces. 19,20 A systematic review of the existing evidence is needed to examine how community pharmacy spaces are experienced and to stimulate new understanding to effectively develop community pharmacy public health services globally. ...
... Seubert et al. 56 Australia Focus groups Pharmacists (28); pharmacy assistants (5); and pharmacy service users (27) Privacy within the pharmacy environment Steckowych et al. 57 The US Focus groups Pharmacy service users (18) and community pharmacies (18) (independent pharmacies (1) and chains (17) (67)); location (cites (108) and suburbs (2)); and drug misuse services Privacy within the pharmacy environment ...
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Aim This systematic review aimed to provide new insights into how pharmacy spaces, or the architecture of pharmacies, are experienced by pharmacy service users and staff. The review sought to identify environmental factors which may influence service users’ and staff participation in community-based pharmacy health services. Method Ten databases were searched for English language publications, using a combination of search terms relating to pharmacy service users and staff; pharmacy spaces; and health and social care outcomes. Data from the final selected studies were extracted, thematically analysed using a narrative approach and the quality of each study assessed using the Integrated quality Criteria for the Review of Multiple Study designs (ICROMS). Results 80 articles reporting 80 studies published between 1994 and 2020 were identified; they were from 28 countries, involving around 3234 community pharmacies, 13,615 pharmacy service users, 5056 pharmacists and 78 pharmacy health staff. Most studies (94%) met the ICROMS minimum score, and half did not meet the mandatory quality criteria. Four themes likely to influence service users’ and staff experiences of pharmacy health services were identified: (1) privacy; (2) experience of the physical environment; (3) professional image; and (4) risk of error. Conclusion To optimise the delivery and experience of pharmacy health services, these spaces should be made more engaging. Future applied research could focus on optimising inclusive pharmacy design features.
... In spite of this, another reason for the increase of mental agility was found by traversing the conversations of a few interviewees; as a female student said: "Inspiration comes from space." Studies have shown that there are some correlations between architectonics and psychology, and architectural space can affect a person's thinking [39][40][41]. Among these interviewees who considered themselves to be affected, almost all of them agreed that the fancy and aesthetic style of this kind of architectural space can give them pleasure, and thus a positive attitude can be obtained. ...
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Non-Linear Minimum Building (NLMB) is a sort of low-carbon building designed to meet the needs of the growing urban population around the world. This study investigates the perceptions of indoor environments among students whilst staying in NLMBs. The students were asked to participate in the subjective survey in order to gather their indoor environmental satisfaction votes. The objectives of this study are to know the importance of six human sensations inside NLMBs relative to indoor environmental satisfaction. The main findings indicated the great function of the humidity sensation in NLMBs, followed by the thermal sensation, the noise sensation, the visual sensation, the air freshness sensation and the draft sensation. Although the subjects were not very satisfied with the humidity sensation, the overall indoor environmental satisfaction was quite high under the relatively cold conditions in winter. Moreover, the studies, through in-depth interviews, showed that the majority of people felt comfortable, and some of them experienced good feelings or experiences when they stayed in NLMBs.
... As far as the garden was concerned, while psychiatric settings having the possibility of spending time in a garden seemed to play a key role in mental health contributing to better outcomes (Connellan et al. 2013;Kalagi et al. 2018), their presence in two units (A and D) did not seem to produce a significant difference in the perception of the ward climate. It is also true that the staff members of those two units did have a higher sense of Therapeutic hold, although they had a lower perception of safety. ...
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The ward climate or atmosphere refers to its material, emotional and social conditions. A good ward climate in psychiatric settings can influence the mood, behaviour and self‐concept of patients and staff members and improve patient outcomes. Many studies have examined the relationship between ward climate and aggression, but only a few have investigated the effect of a ward’s environment, rules and activities. This multicentric observational study aimed to assess the relationship between the rules/activities and the climate of four acute psychiatric units of Northern Italy. The Essen Climate Evaluation Scheme (EssenCES) questionnaire, which was administered to patients and staff, was used to evaluate the different dimensions of ward atmosphere. There was a good response rate (79%) in patients and staff members who completed the questionnaire (114 patients and 109 staff). Safety perception appeared to be quite different in patients and staff. The patients who were authorized to have more visiting hours and more time to use their mobile phone had higher scores on Experienced Safety subscale. A negative correlation between the Therapeutic Hold and Experienced Safety subscales was found in the staff members, and this was due to their negative perception. The ward climate seemed to be affected by the unit’s rules, especially with respect to visits and the smartphones use. Nurses need to be aware of the importance of ward climate and how their own perception may differ from and that of patients: this gap could lead to decisions detached from the patients’ needs.
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Healthcare buildings are complex as their occupants may have different health conditions. In this context, building performance evaluations can help to achieve better performance perceived by occupants. Thus, this paper has developed a systematic literature review (SLR) on performance evaluation in healthcare buildings to understand their intrinsic characteristics, in addition to developing an overview of the subject. The objective was to identify the purpose of the evaluations, the criteria evaluated, the evaluation methods, the type of healthcare facilities evaluated, as well as the temporal and spatial distribution of papers. The research was conducted using three electronic databases, and eighty-three papers were examined according to the 5W1H tool. As a result, the buildings assessed covered health services at all stages of life, physical and mental issues. Six groups of criteria were identified, highlighting: spatial, lighting, acoustic comfort, energy issues, and the materials and finishes used. Moreover, relationships were established between the types of buildings, evaluated criteria, and tools used. Finally, the SLR collaborated with the understanding of performance in healthcare buildings, identified that these buildings are being evaluated, contributing to the health, well-being, and satisfaction of occupants as buildings that perform better tend to be better places of healing and work.
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Research into the spatial dimensions of deprivation of liberty and psychiatric hospitalization has a long and complex tradition. In this context, the increasing numbers of prisoners and patients in forensic hospitals have impressively shown how difficult it is to ensure security, therapy and rehabilitation when space is scarce or not well-suited. In this narrative review, we present the main findings of recent lines of research on spaces in prisons and forensic psychiatric wards, with particular attention to the links between overcrowding in prisons and secure forensic psychiatric hospitals and violence, the foundations of prison and hospital architecture, and on how the design of spaces in prisons and hospitals can influence well-being. We assess and discuss these findings in the context of the current debate on how well-being in secure spaces can support the achievement of rehabilitation goals even in overcrowded institutions.
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People’s health and well-being is known to be affected by the built environment. Since prisons see an overrepresentation of people with mental and physical health problems, we examine how the built prison environment affects the provision of care for prisoners with specific needs. Based on observations and (focus group) interviews with prisoners, prison officers, and care-staff, we report on the experiences of specific groups in highly particular prison environments, various pavilions of a former penal colony. By analyzing spatialities in relation to care practices and temporalities, we provide a nuanced understanding of what caring entails in a prison environment. We find that in this context caring for safety, normality and physical health should go hand in hand. To conclude, we illustrate that the need for control within a prison environment can be reduced by spatial variety, offering different types of settings matching different care and living needs, and allowing movement between settings depending on these needs.
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Background: Constructive relationships between staff and young people in custody are a vital component of a therapeutic youth justice approach, which extends to the maintenance of a safe and secure environment (i.e., relational security). Despite the growing recognition that the physical environment of a facility impacts the procedures within a youth justice environment, as well as the relationships between staff and young people, there is a dearth of research in this area. Aims: We investigated youth custodial staffs' views on, and approaches to, establishing relationships with young people while maintaining safety and security. The current study reports on the impacts and challenges highlighted by staff relating to the design of the facility. Methods: We interviewed a total of 26 custodial staff members working at a Youth Justice facility in Melbourne, Australia. The semi-structured interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. NVivo 12 was used for thematic analysis. Two researchers (SO and PT) coded one transcript independently, iteratively creating a coding template using a thematic analysis approach. Once the final set of broad themes was constructed, the transcripts were re-examined, and narrower themes were identified. Results: Thematic analysis revealed that a total of 14 staff (53.8%) identified the design of the custodial facility as impacting upon their ability to practice relational security. Identified design aspects included: unit size, quiet and private spaces, communal areas, green and outside spaces, ambience and spatial characteristics, spatial differentiation, facility and unit lay-out. Conclusion: Youth custodial staff identified design aspects of a youth custodial facility that either promoted or impeded the ability to practice relational security approaches. The current study highlights the importance of carefully considering facility design given its impact upon staff-young people relationships, procedures and ways of working within these custodial facilities.
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Previous research showed that office workers are mainly distracted by noise, influencing their mental health. Little investigation has been done into the influence of other workspace characteristics (i.e., temperature, amount of space, visual privacy, adjustability of furniture, wall colours, and workspace cleanliness) on distractions at the office, and even fewer while working from home (WFH). The influence of home-workspace distractions on mental health also received limited attention. This research aims to investigate relationships between home-workspace and personal characteristics, distraction, and mental health while WFH during COVID-19. A path analysis approach was used, to find that, at home, employees were distracted by noise and when having a small desk. Those with a dedicated workroom were less distracted. Distractions mediated most relationships between home-workspace characteristics and mental health, while personal characteristics influenced mental health directly. Employers can use these results to redesign policies regarding home-and-office working to stimulate a healthy work-environment.
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Since 2005, CCTV cameras have featured as a tool for managing safety within mental health hospital wards in England and Wales. However this piece argues that the efficacy of cameras to control and manage violence within psychiatric wards remains inconclusive due to a lack of research, and there has been very little discussion of the impact that they might have on the vulnerable populations under the gaze of the camera.
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The psychiatric hospital environment plays a significant, though often underappreciated, role in patient and staff functioning. This column reviews the literature on important environmental and therapeutic issues in psychiatric hospital design. Research findings and clinical conjecture reported over the past 50 years indicate that intervening environmentally through clinically informed, patient-centered design can improve functioning both among and between patients and staff. This column identifies specific best practice considerations and recommendations for designing inpatient psychiatric facilities and may serve as a useful planning resource to those interested in adopting a patient-centered, inclusive approach to design and treatment.