The Healing Impact of Wall Murals in Health Care FacilitiesMAY 6, 2021| SpeedPro
Research over the years has provided evidence for something many patients and health care providers know intuitively — that a person’s physical environment can either be helpful or detrimental to their healing. Imagine recovering from surgery in a room that feels bland and sterile versus one that is brightly and attractively decorated. Where would you rather recover?
Wall murals are a powerful means of enhancing a space, making it feel more inviting, comforting and inspiring for patients. In this post, we look at the healing impact of wall murals in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and other health care facilities.
The Role of Art and the Physical Environment in Healing
The incorporation of art into health care spaces traces all the way back to medieval times when local churches ran hospitals. Therefore, much of the art featured at this time was religious in nature. Hospitals from the Middle Ages emphasized their artwork so much that the artists’ names have often endured while the hospital builders’ names were lost to history.
Today, the popularity of artwork in health care facilities — including hospitals, specialized treatment centers, addiction recovery centers and more — endures. And today, we have scientific evidence to demonstrate why health care wall murals and other types of art have a healing effect.
When it comes to healing, the mind and body are inextricably intertwined. Studies have shown a direct link between the images a person sees and their brain’s reaction to pain, stress and anxiety. A landmark 1993 study found that patients recovering from open-heart surgery who were exposed to a nature image experienced less postoperative pain and anxiety than those who viewed an abstract image or no image at all.
In more recent years, studies have continued to demonstrate the role artwork can play in healing. Some studies have shown that art is a positive distraction that can lower stress and anxiety levels for patients. A 2016 study asked patients to describe their idea of a healing environment. The physical attributes of the space and the feelings it evoked were some of the most prominent themes that emerged from the participants’ descriptions.
A 2017 study provided additional insight into why artwork promotes healing — the presence of art contributes to an atmosphere where patients can socialize, feel safe and feel connected with their identity and the outside world. The study concluded that exposure to artwork improves patient satisfaction.
Overall, the research shows that being surrounded by art in a health care setting can help patients experience:
- Less stress and anxiety
- Lower levels of pain
- A stronger connection with others and the outside world
- A faster and more positive healing experience
- Greater overall patient satisfaction
Why Choose Wall Murals for Your Health Care Facility
Evidence abounds showing that art can improve the healing experience for patients, but health care facilities may be left wondering what types of artwork to install. Wall murals are one of the best art forms to consider because they can truly transform an environment. Wall murals are a type of environmental graphics, meaning they are a part of and strongly influence the environment where they are installed. A canvas or poster on the wall can help decorate a room, but a mural can give the whole room a different feel.
Hospitals and other health care facilities can often feel sterile and clinical to patients, which may increase their feelings of discomfort and uneasiness. A wall mural can make the whole space feel more comforting and even uplifting. Imagine the difference between a plain, white wall and a wall that’s covered in a beautiful artistic design. Some wall murals may even include inspirational quotes.
Wall murals are also large enough displays that they can perform multiple functions at once. For example, in addition to being decorative, hospital wall murals can serve as wayfinding devices that help visitors distinguish between departments more easily. They can also incorporate your branding to enhance the sense of place and connection to your organization’s identity.
Tips for Creating Wall Murals That Promote Healing
In addition to following some general tips for designing murals, health care organizations should also consider the following tips for creating murals that improve the patient experience:
- Choose representational art designs: Some research indicates that patients prefer representational art, which reflects realistic images, over abstract art. In a 2012 study, patients were more likely to feel negative emotions when they viewed images that were ambiguous and unfamiliar, lacked realism and contained sharp contours. This doesn’t mean you can’t include elements into your artwork that are open to interpretation, but health care facilities are generally not the best places to display edgy abstract art. Remember, the artwork should comfort rather than challenge the viewer in this context.
- Incorporate natural elements into your design: Scientific research supports the healing powers of nature, but even more amazing is the fact that you can benefit from nature without actually being outside. In one study, students who looked at a flowering green roof in the middle of a task performed better than students who paused to look at a concrete rooftop. Patients tend to enjoy natural landscapes and imagery in their artwork, and it may even help them heal more effectively. So try to include design elements that are explicitly or implicitly reminiscent of nature.
- Choose positive imagery: To promote healing, you should avoid images that can induce negative feelings. This includes fearful or angry faces. If you include people in your mural designs, make sure they display positive emotions. You may also want to emphasize colors in your design that people are more likely to describe as happy or serene, such as blue, green, purple and yellow. Cheerful wall murals can go a long way toward making the whole space feel more uplifting to patients and their families, as well as to staff.
- Place murals throughout your facility: Since you can create custom wall murals in nearly any size, you can use murals to brighten up spaces throughout your health care facility. A visually appealing mural in the lobby or waiting room can help set people at ease as soon as they enter your facility. Smaller murals in patient rooms can improve the space for recovering patients. You can also use other graphic displays, like elevator wraps and window graphics, throughout your facility to contribute to an attractive and inviting environment.
Create a Healing Environment With Custom Printed Murals From SpeedPro
There’s no need to commission artists to paint murals throughout your facility that you’ll later need to paint over when you’re ready for a change. Printed wall murals allow you to create custom imagery and apply it just like a giant decal to your wall. When it comes to large-format graphics like wall murals, SpeedPro leads the way in experience and quality.
If you want to create custom wall murals that promote healing, find a SpeedPro studio near you. Your local staff will be happy to assist you in creating wall murals according to your custom sizing, material choice and design. It’s time to make your facility a better place to work, to visit and — most importantly — to heal.