Article By: SmartArt Art Consulting | Artwork: Resting Nostalgia by Erik Brede
Several studies have proven that utilizing artwork for healthcare facilities can have positive effects on patients and their recovery times. Often, this research has pertained to more long-term situations. For instance, when Arts and Health Alliance surveyed 129 veterans’ medical centers in 2013, they found that 40% had rotating art exhibits or permanent art collections.
Wall art for hospitals has proven to be beneficial for patients recovering from surgery or continuing health conditions; however, a 2012 study illustrates the importance of wall art for patients in hospital emergency waiting rooms.
Emergency department wait times are becoming worse and worse for many hospitals. In fact, research has shown that even just the perceived wait time can impact a patient’s satisfaction. When a patient is more stressed or anxious, they may perceive their wait time to be longer, which can have a circular effect on their general well-being.
The study looked at two different hospital emergency departments: Ben Taub, a hospital with one of the nation’s busiest EDs, and Memorial Hermann Hospital, which had an ER with relatively low wait times in comparison. While Ben Taum receives more than 100,000 patients in a given year and has wait times that sometimes exceed 10 to 12 hours, Memorial Hermann sees around 40,000 patients per year who experience wait times of up to four hours, on average.
After art — including canvas art, nature images on screens, and window films — was introduced into these environments, a number of restless distractions and behaviors decreased significantly. People still got out of their seats, looked at others waiting, used their cell phones, and looked at the TV, but these actions occurred much less often.
Researchers argued that the decrease in restless behavior was due to the introduction of a distraction these individuals viewed as being pleasant and calming. In addition, study authors noticed there was a general increase in social behaviors, which they feel shows more positive moods. Finally, noise levels also decreased, which is an indicator of lower stress levels.
By their nature, emergency departments are bound to be stressful. But this study shows that by introducing wall art for hospitals and their emergency waiting rooms, the overall patient experience can be improved. If an ED is as peaceful as it can possibly be, patients and their families will be much less stressed and will report higher levels of satisfaction.