The healthcare environment—The importance of aesthetic surroundings: Health professionals’ experiences from a surgical ward in Finland


There is a growing acceptance of the vital role patient centered design plays in shaping the environment. Art can be of use in every area of health care. It is within the power of each person to share and interpret experience by means of the arts, by viewing the work of others, and by using feelings and imagination. Health professionals [n = 24 of a total of n = 35], answered the Wheel Questionnaire test instrument. It measures structure, motivation/engagement, and degree of emotional investment in a situation. Participants were requested to describe, in their own words, their perception of the enrichment of the ward interiordesign and the double-sided photos with a short poetic text, and the photo-book placed at each patient room. The results demonstrate that participants are motivated, structured and emotionally engaged when describing the new enrichment. The domains and themes are: Social interaction domain; rising thoughts and conversations. Comfort domain; atmosphere. Aesthetic do main; enrichment of the working environment. It could be concluded that the surgical ward environmental enrichment stimulated conversations between health professionals and between health professionals and patients and should be regarded as an important aspect in hospital planning.

Share and Cite:

Wikström, B. , Westerlund, E. and Erkkilä, J. (2012) The healthcare environment—The importance of aesthetic surroundings: Health professionals’ experiences from a surgical ward in Finland. Open Journal of Nursing, 2, 188-195. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2012.23029.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Lassenius, S.E. (2005) Rummet i v?rdandets v?rld (The space in the world of caring). ?bo Akademi Company, ?bo.
[2] Wikstr?m, B.M. (2002) Social interaction associated with visual art dialogs: A controlled intervention study. Aging & Mental Health, 6, 80-85.
[3] Wikstr?m, B.M. (2003) Health professionals and paintings as a conversation tool. Applied Nursing, 16, 184-188.
[4] Cintra, M. (2001) Art in health care buildings: Is any art good art. In: Dilani, A., Ed., Design and Health. The Therapeutic Benefits of Design, Elanders Swedish Press AB, Stockholm, pp. 303-311.
[5] Theorell, T. (2001) Physiological reactions to creative environments. In: Dilani, A., Ed., Design and Health. The Therapeutic Benefits of Design, Elanders Swedish Press AB, Stockholm, pp. 11-17.
[6] Wells-Thorpe, J. (2001) Design for enhanced recovery. In: Dilani, A., Ed., Design and Health. The Therapeutic Benefits of Design, Elanders Swedish Press AB, Stockholm, pp. 311-317.
[7] Wells-Thorpe, J. (2002) Better by design, understanding the healing environment. Helix, 23-27.
[8] Caspari, S., Erikssom, K. and N?den, D. (2006) The aesthetic dimension in hospitals—An investigation into strategic plans. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 43, 851-859. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2006.04.011
[9] Dalke, H., Little, J., Niemann, E., Camgoz, N., Sreadman, G., Hill, S. and Stott, L. (2006) Colourand lighting in hospital design. Optics & Laser Technology, 38, 343-365. doi:10.1016/j.optlastec.2005.06.040
[10] Douglas, C.H. and Douglas, M.R. (2005) Patient-centered improvements in health-care built environments: Perspectives and design indicators. Health Expectations, 8, 264-276. doi:10.1111/j.1369-7625.2005.00336.x
[11] Maslow, A.H. and Mintz, N.L. (1956) Effects of esthetic surroundings: Initial effects of three esthetic conditions upon perceiving energy and well-being in faces. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 41, 247-254. doi:10.1080/00223980.1956.9713000
[12] Strickley, T. (2010) A report from an arts and health consultation and evaluation. Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 1, 321-331. doi:10.1386/jaah.1.3.321_7
[13] Pattison, H.M. and Robertson, C.E. (1996) The effects of ward design on the well-being of post-operative patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 23, 820-826. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.1996.tb00056.x
[14] Staricoff, R.L., Wright, M., Loppert, S. and Scott, J. (2001) A study of the effects of the visual and performing arts in healthcare. Hospital Development, 32, 25-28.
[15] Lawson, B., Wells-Thorpe, J. (2003) The architectural healthcare environment and its effects on patient health outcomes. HMSO, Norwich.
[16] Eisen, S. (2005) Artfully designed pediatric environments. Doctoral dissertation, A &M University, Texas.
[17] Edvardsson, D., Sandman, P.O. and Rasmusson, B. (2005) Sensing an atmosphere: A tentative theory of care settings. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 19, 344-353. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6712.2005.00356.x
[18] Antonowsky, A. (1991) H?lsans mysterium (The mystery of health). Natur och Kultur, K?ping.
[19] Aristoteles, (1988) Den nikomachiska etiken (The Nicomachic Ethic). Daidalos Company, G?teborg.
[20] Martin, A. (1998) Beauty is the mystery of life. In: Beckley, B. and Shapiro, D., Eds., Uncontrollable Beauty, toward a New Aesthetics, Allworth Press, New York, 339-402.
[21] Morgan, R.C. (1998) A sign of beauty. In: Beckley, B. and Shapiro, D., Eds., Uncontrollable Beauty, toward a New Aesthetics, Allworth Press, New York, 75-82.
[22] Bullough, E. (1957) Aesthetics, lectures and essays. Bowes & Bowes, London.
[23] Gardner, H. (1973) The arts and human development: A psychological study of the artistic process. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
[24] Crose, B. (1912/63) Estetisktbrevarium (Breviary of Aesthetics). Stockholm/Roma, Italica.
[25] Bell, C. (1914/39) Art. Chatto & Windows, London.
[26] Hirn, Y. (1902) Konstens ursprung: En studie ?fver den estetiska v?rksamhetens psykologiska och sociologiska orsaker (A study of aesthetical experiences; psychologycal and sociological causes). S?derstr?m Company, Helsingfors.
[27] Nightingale, F. (1992) Notes on nursing. Harrison and Sons, London.
[28] Wikstr?m, B.M., Ekvall, G. and Sandstr?m, S (1994) Stimulating the creativity of elderly institutionalized women through works of art. Creativity Research Journal, 7, 171-182. doi:10.1080/10400419409534522
[29] Bygren, L.O., Konlaan, B.B. and Johansson, S.E. (1996) Attendance at cultural events, reading books or periodicals, and making music or singing in choir as determinants for survival: Swedish interview survey of living conditions. British Medical Journal, 313, 1577-1580. doi:10.1136/bmj.313.7072.1577
[30] Shalit, B. (1978) Perceptual organisation and reduction questionnaire-administration and scoring. FOA-Report C 55021-H6, National Defense Research Institute, Stockholm.
[31] Shalit, B. (1979) Perceptual organisation and reduction questionnaire-validity. FOA-Report C 55036-H6, National Defense Research Institute, Stockholm.
[32] Shalit, B. and Carlstedt, L. (2001) The perception of enemy threat. A method for assessing the coping potential. FOA-Report C 55063-H4, National Defense Research Institute, Stockholm.
[33] Manguel, A. (2000) Reading pictures: A history of love and hate. Random House, New York.
[34] Child, I.L. (1965) Personality correlation of aesthetic judgment in college students. Journal of Personality, 33, 476-511. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1965.tb01399.x
[35] Berlyne, D.E. (1971) Aesthetics and psychobiology. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York.
[36] Sandstr?m, S. (1977) A common taste in art, an experimental attempt. Swedish Humanistic Research Council, Aris, Lund.
[37] Wikstr?m, B.M., Theorell, T. and Sandstr?m, S. (1993) Medical health and emotional effects of art stimulation in old age. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 60, 195-206. doi:10.1159/000288693
[38] Wikstr?m, B.-M. Theorell, T. and Sandstr?m, S. (1992) Psychophysiological effects of stimulation with pictures of works of art in old age. International Journal of Psychosomatics, 39, 68-75.
[39] Sandstr?m, S. (1983) Se och uppleva (Seeing and perceiving). Kalejdoskop, ?hus.
[40] Wikstr?m, B.M. (2001) Works of art dialogues: An educational technique by which students discover personal knowledge of empathy. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 7, 24-29. doi:10.1046/j.1440-172x.2001.00248.x
[41] Wikstr?m, B.M. (2004) Older adults and the arts, the importance of aesthetic forms of expression in later life. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 30, 30-36.
[42] Sandstr?m, S. (1997) Intuition och ?sk?dlighet (Intuition and clearity).Carlssons F?rlag, Stockholm.
[43] Morse, J.M. and Field, P. (1996) Nursing research. The application of qualitative approaches. Chapman & Hill, London.
[44] Manen, V.J. (1983) Reclaiming qualitative methods for organizational research: A preface. In: Manen, V.J., Ed., Qualitative Methodology, Sage Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, 9-18.
[45] Kvale, S. (1989) Issues of validity in qualitative research. Studentlitteratur, Lund.
[46] Williams, R.J. (2008) The declaration of Helsinki and public health. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86, 650-651. doi:10.2471/BLT.08.050955
[47] Daykin, N., Byrne, E., O’Conner, S. and Soteriou, T. (2008) The impact of art, design and environment in mental healthcare: A systematic review of the literature. Perspectives in Public Health, 128, 85-94. doi:10.1177/1466424007087806
[48] Frampton, S.B., Gilpin, L., Charmel, P.A. (2003) Putting patients first: Designing and practicing patient-centered care. Johan Wiley & Sons, San Francisco.
[49] Wikstr?m, B.-M. (2000) Visual art dialogues with elderly persons: effect on perceived life Situation. Journal of Nursing Management, 8, 31-37. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2834.2000.00154.x
[50] Theorell, T. and Hasselhorn, H.M. (2002) Endocrinological and immunological variables sensitive to psychosocial factors of possible relevance to work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Work & Stress: An International Journal of Work, Health & Organisations, 16, 154-165. doi:10.1080/02678370210150837
[51] Theorell, T. (1995) Om den psykosociala milj?n och hur den samvarierar med H?lsoparametrar (The psychosocial environment and the connection to health parameters), In: Sivik, L. and Theorell, T., Eds., Psykosomatisk Medicin, Studentlitteratur, Lund.
[52] Weitz, M. (1976) Art: Who needs it? Journal of Aesthetic Education, 10, 19-27. doi:10.2307/3332006
[53] Weir, H. (2010) You don’t have to like them: Art, tate modern and learning. Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 1, 93-110. doi:10.1386/jaah.1.1.93/1
[54] Caspari, S., Eriksson, K. and N?den, D. (2011) The importance of aesthetic surroundings: A study interviewing experts within different aesthetic fields. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 25, 134-142. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6712.2010.00803.x
[55] White, M. (2010) Developing guidelines for good practice in participatory arts-inhealth-care contexts. Journal of Applied Arts & Health, 1, 139-155.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.