Available research on hospital healing gardens and outdoor spaces has indicated that despite several health benefits of access to nature for staff, patients, and family members, these amenities are not being used to their fullest capacity. Previous researchers have recommended design features such as comfortable seats and adequate shade to increase garden visitation in healthcare setting. However, no quantitative data have demonstrated significance of correlation between presence of these design features and garden use. A recent study served to statistically support design guidelines suggested by previous researchers and introduce new guidelines.

Site visits and surveys were conducted in five green outdoor spaces in three pediatric hospitals in east Texas. Hospital visitors, family members, and staff responded to questions concerning barriers to garden visitation, their visitation habits, and satisfaction with the garden features.

While quality of seats didn't impact visitor and family member garden visitation, a significant negative correlation was found between poor shade and their garden use. Many families also reported that they didn't use the gardens simply because they didn't know about them. The study serves to statistically support previous design suggestions for hospital gardens, and introduces new design guidelines, such as:

  • Improving functionality, visibility, and accessibility of garden spaces
  • Providing exclusive outdoor spaces for staff use only
  • including ample availability to shade and comfortable, movable seating.

Edited abstract from “Barriers to Garden Visition in Children's Hospitals," by . To access the entire report, click here to subscribe to the The Health Environments Research and Design (HERD) Journal. The HERD Journal, a sister publication to Healthcare Design, is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal whose mission is to enhance the knowledge and practice of evidence-based healthcare design by disseminating research findings, discussing issues and trends, and translating research to practice.