There is an exponential growth of chronic diseases, especially in the elderly(1). As the Dr.Howard Koh and Dr.Anand Parekh explain, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is re-thinking ways to treat chronic disease and launching innovative care delivery models.
How all this can be related to the presence of gardens in healthcare settings? Simply – chronic diseases with their prolonged pain or/and tension or worry lead directly to high levels of stress(2). A growing amount of research shows how simple contact with natural elements helps to lower stress levels (3,4,5). Independent of age, gender, culture or the origin, places with prevalent natural elements are universally preferred and indicated as those that help to lower stress levels (5,6,7).
As stress levels become grater, the more impact nature has positive incomes. In situations where stress levels are particularly high, it is especially important how those spaces with natural elements are planned.
This is a new and special role and challenge for landscape architects to understand the latest research, seemingly not related to their field. Pertinent research includes environmental and behavioral psychology, stress-related diseases, visual perception and preferences and human’s needs. This research should inform garden projects to create new spaces that are not focused (as too often happens) on the artistic/aesthetic preferences of the designer, but places that answer the real needs of their users.
- Zullo C., Felaco R. 2005. Esperienze in psicologia ospedaliera, Liguori Editore, Napoli
- Bottaccioli F. 2011. Psiconeuroendocrinoimmunologia. I fondamenti scientifici delle relazioni mente-corpo. Le basi razionali della medicina integrata, Red Edizioni, Milano
- Kaplan S. 1996. The restorative benefits of nature: toward an integrative framework, Journal of Environmental Psychology, nr. 15, 169-182
- Ulrich R.S. 1984. View through a window may influence recovery from surgery, Science 224, 420-421
- Stiggsdotter U., Grahn P. 2011. Stressed individuals’ preferences for activities and environmental characteristics in green spaces, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 10, 295-304
- Herzog T.R., Maguire C.P., Nebel M.B. 2003. Assessing the restorative components of environments, Journal of Environmental Psychology, nr.23
- Kaplan R. 1985. The analysis of perception via preference: a strategy for studying how the environment is experiences, Landscape Planning, nr.12, 161-176