The Benefits of Artwork in the Healthcare Environment

The idea of introducing the arts into the healing process is not a new concept. In fact Thomas Sydenham, a physician in the 17th Century famously said, "The arrival of a good clown exercises more beneficial influence upon the health of a town than 20 asses laden with drugs."

Some people may argue that art in the healthcare environment is just decoration, but decades of extensive research prove otherwise, showing that art can provide more than just “decoration” to hospitals and trusts. Here's why:

1. Clinical outcomes

Studies have shown that certain pieces of art can reduce a patient’s length of stay, blood pressure, heart rate and even intake of pain medication. Michael Lehman once wrote that “Art is a positive distraction, directly or indirectly," highlighting a wide range of clinical outcomes that have seen measurable reductions thanks to the use of art programs within healthcare environments:

  • Patient + employee anxiety and stress
  • Pain perception
  • Depression
  • Non-operative treatment times
  • Operative recovery times
  • Mental healthcare treatment times
  • Abusive behaviors
  • Length of stay
  • Employee turnover and missed days

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2. Stakeholder outcomes

Art not only affects patients, but also staff and visitors. Waiting rooms can be a stressful place for families of patients, and studies like one conducted by Upali Nanda PhD on two hospitals in the US have shown that the introduction of certain art mediums can reduce stress, anxiety and even increase socialization in waiting rooms.

3. Economic outcomes

A study in the US also conducted by Nanda at a behavioral health facility found that with the introduction of certain pieces of art into the facility, came a reduction in the number of anxiety-related “incidents” and with that a decrease in the amount of anxiety medication that was needed to calm patients. As cited before, artwork has been known to reduce a patient’s intake of pain medication as well, thereby lowering the costs of patient care.

The key to a successful art program in a healthcare environment is relevance. Art is subjective, but what is it that all patients, visitors and staff at a hospital have in common? … locality.

It’s important that the artwork anchors the hospital in its locale, creating a connection with the community, making the patient feel more at home. For example sourcing locally produced art, or showcasing local photography can all help to embed the hospital and bring about the documented benefits of nature focused imagery (often the most beneficial and well received within hospitals).

It’s also important that the artwork fit with the area in the hospital it has been placed, the imagery and artwork requirements in a pediatric ward will be different to that of an emergency department, artwork should be tailored to the audience.

Careful thought and consideration should be put into the choice of art in a hospital or trust, it shouldn’t be an after-thought or a way to use up excess budget. Some trains of thought suggest that the hospital artwork budget should be roughly 1 – 2% of the overall cost of building/renovation of the hospital. Given the benefits that have been outlined it seems like a worthwhile investment.


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Where does CS come in?


At Construction Specialties we are strong believers in the benefits of artwork in the healthcare environment, and with that in mind offer just the right medium for displaying artwork. Acrovyn by Design®.

Acrovyn by Design allows you to embed any image or piece of artwork, any size in hygienic, durable and scratch resistant Acrovyn material without compromising image quality.


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Designed with durability in mind, Acrovyn by Design gives design flexibility without compromising infection control. The unique combination of artwork and wall protection allows freedom in what is normally a restrictive environment design wise.

Acrovyn by Design gives you the ability to create a floor to ceiling wall mural in a high traffic area of your hospital without the worry of damaging the artwork or your walls. You provide the digital artwork, we provide peace of mind that your images + walls will stay bright & vibrant, intact and most importantly easy to clean and maintain.



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