Healing environment: a review of the impact of the physical environmental factors on users

Emelieke Huisman, E. Morales, J. Hoof, van, H.S.M. Kort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

307 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, the effects of the physical environment on the healing process and well-being have proved to be increasingly relevant for patients and their families (PF) as well as for healthcare staff. The discussions focus on traditional and institutionally designed healthcare facilities (HCF) relative to the actual well-being of patients as an indicator of their health and recovery. This review investigates and structures the scientific research on an evidence-based healthcare design for PF and staff outcomes. Evidence-based design has become the theoretical concept for what are called healing environments. The results show the effects on PF and staff from the perspective of various aspects and dimensions of the physical environmental factors of HFC. A total of 798 papers were identified that fitted the inclusion criteria for this study. Of these, 65 articles were selected for review: fewer than 50% of these papers were classified with a high level of evidence, and 86% were included in the group of PF outcomes. This study demonstrates that evidence of staff outcomes is scarce and insufficiently substantiated. With the development of a more customer-oriented management approach to HCF, the implications of this review are relevant to the design and construction of HCF. Some design features to consider in future design and construction of HCF are single-patient rooms, identical rooms, and lighting. For future research, the main challenge will be to explore and specify staff needs and to integrate those needs into the built environment of HCF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages11
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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