The Healing Power of Fun Decor in Children’s Hospital Environments

From the moment a family steps through the doors of a children’s hospital, they are surrounded by fear, uncertainty, and stress. But what if there was something that could help alleviate some of those feelings – something that could make the hospital environment more inviting and, ultimately, create better health outcomes for patients? Decorating a children’s hospital with fun elements can help to distract sick children from their ailments and create an atmosphere of hope and optimism.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in understanding how the physical environment of hospitals can impact the healing process, particularly for children. Numerous studies have shown that fun, engaging, and aesthetically pleasing environments can significantly enhance mood, reduce stress, and improve treatment outcomes for young patients. We’ve gathered some of these studies together to compare the benefits researchers have found.


One notable study on healing gardens in hospitals highlighted the positive impact of abstract art and outdoor spaces on patients’ moods. The researchers found that exposure to visually stimulating and nature-inspired environments led to a noticeable improvement in emotional well-being.

In another influential paper, RS Ulrich’s theory and research on healthcare environments demonstrated that well-designed spaces with therapeutic elements could significantly uplift patients’ spirits and aid in their recovery. Ulrich noted that whimsical and fun elements in hospital design were particularly beneficial for children, creating a more welcoming and less intimidating atmosphere.

A study focusing on children’s perspectives on hospital design emphasized the importance of incorporating fun activities and colorful decor to enhance the healing environment. The research revealed that children preferred hospitals with playful and engaging spaces, which contributed positively to their overall healing process.

The Therapy by Design evaluation of the UK hospital building program found that changes in hospital design, including the introduction of vibrant colors and interactive features, had a significant positive effect on patients’ moods and morale. This study underscored the value of creating more benign and healing environments through thoughtful design.

Research on color and lighting in hospital design further supports the idea that children’s environments should be visually stimulating. The study found that appropriate use of color and light could enhance children’s perceptions and moods, making the hospital experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

A comprehensive review of evidence-based healthcare design by Ulrich and colleagues highlighted the importance of designing physical environments that support clinical outcomes. The review concluded that incorporating elements of fun and engagement in hospital design can lead to better health outcomes and overall satisfaction for patients.

Additionally, a paper on pain management in hospital environments found that interesting and distracting decor, such as patient-generated art, could help manage pain by providing a mental distraction and creating a more pleasant environment.

The study on pictorial interventions in pediatric hospital environments revealed that fun and engaging visuals could positively affect parents’ perceptions of the hospital unit, thereby creating a more positive and supportive atmosphere for children undergoing treatment.

Finally, research on designing hospital environments to improve psychological wellbeing highlighted the role of fun decor in enhancing the mental health of pediatric patients. The study suggested that incorporating playful elements like stickers and child-friendly decorations could significantly improve the psychological well-being of young patients.

10 Examples of Themed Decor in Hospitals and Medical Facilities

Example of an ABA therapy center with underwater theming.
Underwater mural in an ABA therapy center.
Landmark character outside of a pediatric medical clinic.
Private playroom in a children’s hospital.
Wayfinding sign in a children’s hospital.
I Spy mural in a hospital treatment room.
Reception desk in a pediatric hospital wing.
Fun seating area in a children’s medical center.
Door murals on rooms in a pediatric ER waiting area.
Fun reception desk in an obstetrician’s office.
Jungle wall murals in a medical exam room.

The Evidence of The Impact of Decor is Clear

Fun and engaging decor in children’s hospital environments plays a crucial role in improving their mood, reducing stress, and enhancing treatment outcomes. By designing spaces that are visually stimulating and child-friendly, healthcare providers can create a more supportive and healing environment for their youngest patients.

Hospitals do not have to be sterile environments. Adding bright colors, fun decorations, and cheerful artwork can bring life into a medical setting. Having fun spaces within the hospital helps to make sick children feel safe and secure while also allowing them to spend quality time with their families during difficult times. Imagination Design Studios (IDS) is an expert at creating spaces for children in healthcare environments. Contact IDS to get started transforming your facility from a mundane to a magical patient experience.

Interested in learning more? Check out these related resources on themed environments and their benefits:

5 Ways to Improve Pediatric Patient Experience in Your Medical Clinic

Pediatric Therapy Facility Decor Inspiration

Keep Guests on Track with 7 Types of Fun Wayfinding Signage for Pediatric Healthcare Spaces


References

  1. Marcus, C. C. (2007). Healing Gardens in Hospitals. Interdisciplinary Design and Research e-Journal. Retrieved from brikbase.org
  2. Ulrich, R. S. (1999). Theory and Research. Healing Gardens: Therapeutic Benefits and Design. Retrieved from illinois-online.org
  3. Nourmusavi Nasab, S., Karimi Azeri, A. R., & Mirbazel, S. (2020). Ideal Physical Features of Environmental Design in Children’s Hospital: Using Children’s Perspectives. Facilities. Retrieved from researchgate.net
  4. Gesler, W., Bell, M., Curtis, S., Hubbard, P., & Francis, S. (2004). Therapy by Design: Evaluating the UK Hospital Building Program. Health & Place. Retrieved from academia.edu
  5. Dalke, H., Little, J., Niemann, E., & Camgoz, N. (2006). Colour and Lighting in Hospital Design. Optics & Laser Technology. Retrieved from academia.edu
  6. Ulrich, R. S., Zimring, C., Zhu, X., & DuBose, J. (2008). A Review of the Research Literature on Evidence-Based Healthcare Design. Health Environments Research & Design Journal. Retrieved from brikbase.org
  7. Malenbaum, S., Keefe, F. J., Williams, A. C. C., & Ulrich, R. (2008). Pain in its Environmental Context: Implications for Designing Environments to Enhance Pain Control. Pain. Retrieved from nih.gov
  8. Monti, F., Agostini, F., Dellabartola, S., & Neri, E. (2012). Pictorial Intervention in a Pediatric Hospital Environment: Effects on Parental Affective Perception of the Unit. Journal of Environmental Psychology. Retrieved from academia.edu
  9. da Rosa, V. M., & Brust-Renck, P. G. (2021). Designing Hospital Environments to Improve the Psychological Wellbeing of Pediatric Patients. Children, Youth and Environments. Retrieved from muse.jhu.edu

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