Evidence-based hospital design with healing in mind

A very stressful event in one’s life is hospitalization. By design, hospitals are commonly associated with illness, suffering and recovery, yet for others, joyful events such as childbirth, may be the outcome.

Regardless of the reason for hospitalization, being a patient may be associated with a high degree of stress, a physiological response, including:

  1. Threat with fear of the unknown
  2. Loss of freedom and familiar surroundings
  3. Challenge in coping mechanisms1

The hospital bed and associated bed rest, known as the “bed cure,” was historically viewed as the cornerstone of therapy required to overcome illness and promote recovery. Today, it is commonly associated with being more harmful than healing. Health and well-being include having the proper equipment, proper skills and the proper environment, which are all key to achieving better outcomes for the patient and staff.

So what is evidence-based design and why is this transformation of hospitals important? Evidence-based design is how the physical design of health care environments affect patients and staff to achieve the best possible outcomes. Some examples of evidence-based design commonly seen today include the addition of landscaped gardens on hospital grounds, private rooms, enhanced natural lighting and open architecture; all warm and welcoming environments to facilitate health and well-being of the hospitalized patient.

Over the past decades, a growing body of evidence has correlated the significant impact of the physical environment of a hospital to outcomes for the patients and caregivers, and adds value to hospitals with a positive return on investment:

  1. Reduced stress and fatigue
  2. Increased patient and staff satisfaction
  3. Increased effectiveness in delivering care
  4. Improved patient safety
  5. Improved outcomes
  6. Improved employee retention
  7. Improved overall healthcare quality2,3

For over 60 years, Arjo has collaborated with architects, nursing staff, and experts in safe patient handling to formulate guidelines for the construction, refurbishment and transformation of healthcare facilities by incorporating mobility needs into facility design. Our comprehensive portfolio spans key areas of daily personal care routines with a range of high-quality products, training, services, assessment tools, design and consulting resources to create integrated solutions that enhance patient care, quality and efficiency.

Contact Arjo to learn more


  1. Wilson-Barnett J. (1996) Stress in Hospital Patients. In: Bittles A.H., Parsons P.A. (eds) Stress. Studies in Biology, Economy and Society. Palgrave Macmillan, London
  2. Urlich, R & Zimring, C & Quan, Xiaobo & Joseph, Anjali & Choudhary, R.. (2004). The role of the physical environment in the hospital of the 21st century. The Center for Health Design.
  3. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Transforming Hospitals: Designing for Safety and Quality. AHRQ Pub. No. 07-0076-1, September 2007. https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/systems/hospital/transform.pdf