Relationships Between Exterior Views and Nurse Stress: An Exploratory Examination

Jan 01, 2008

This study explores the outcomes of exposure to exterior views from nurse work areas. A survey-based method was used to collect data on acute stress, chronic stress, and alertness of nurses before and after 12-hour shifts. Among the variables considered in the study view duration is the second most influential factor affecting alertness and acute stress. The association between view duration and alertness and stress is conditional on the exterior view content (that is, nature view, non-nature view). Of all the nurses whose alertness level remained the same or improved, almost 60% had exposure to exterior and nature view. In contrast, of all nurses whose alertness levels deteriorated, 67% were exposed to no view or to only non-nature view. Similarly, of all nurses whose acute stress condition remained the same or reduced, 64% had exposure to views (71% of that 64% were exposed to a nature view). Of nurses whose acute stress levels increased, 56% had no view or only a non-nature view. Although long working hours, overtime, and sleep deprivation are problems in healthcare operations, the physical design of units is only now beginning to be considered seriously in evaluating patient outcomes. Access to a nature view and natural light for care-giving staff could bear direct as well as indirect effects on patient outcomes. Key Words: Nursing, acute stress, alertness, natural light, nature view, patient safety, evidence-based design, healthcare architecture.

Debajyoti Pati, PhD, MASA, AIIA
Tom E. Harvey Jr., AIA, FACHA, MPH
Paul Barach, MD, MPH
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