Contact with nature has long been suspected to increase positive feelings, reduce stress, and provide distraction from pain. A recent study provides strong evidence that contact with plants is directly beneficial to a hospital patient's health. Using various medical and psychological measurements, the study set out to evaluate if plants in hospital rooms have therapeutic influences.
The study was conducted on 90 patients recovering from an appendectomy. Patients were randomly assigned to hospital rooms with or without plants during their postoperative recovery periods. Data collected for the study included information on the length of hospitalisation, administration of drugs for postoperative pain control, vital signs, ratings of pain intensity, distress, fatigue and anxiety, and the patient's room satisfaction questionnaire.
Patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses (lower blood pressure and heart rate), less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms.
An interesting note to this study - the majority of patients who had plants in their rooms reported that the plants were the most positive qualities of their rooms (93 percent), whereas patients without plants in their rooms said that watching television was the most favourable aspect of their rooms (91 percent).
The study suggests that potted plants offer the most benefit, as opposed to cut flowers, because of their longevity. Nursing staff reported that as patients recovered, they began to show interaction with the plants, including watering, pruning, and moving them for a better view or light. A number of studies have also shown that indoor plants make air healthier and provide an optimum indoor environment by increasing humidity, and reducing the quantity of mold spores and airborne germs.
This non-pharmacological approach to recovery is good news for patients, doctors, and insurers alike in terms of cost effectiveness and medical benefits.
MEDICA.de; Source: American Society for Horticultural Science