Stress-reducing effects of indoor plants in the built healthcare environment: the mediating role of perceived attractiveness

Prev Med. 2008 Sep;47(3):279-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.01.013. Epub 2008 Jan 26.


Objective: Natural elements in the built healthcare environment have shown to hold potential stress-reducing properties. In order to shed light on the underlying mechanism of stress-reducing effects of nature, the present study investigates whether the stress-reducing effects of indoor plants occur because such an environment is perceived as being more attractive.

Method: A single-factor between-subjects experimental design (nature: indoor plants vs. no plants) was used in which participants (n=77) were presented with a scenario describing hospitalization with a possible legionella diagnosis. The study was conducted from March to May 2007 in the Netherlands. Subsequently, they were exposed to a photo of a hospital room. In this room were either indoor plants, or there was a painting of an urban environment on the wall. Afterwards, perceived stress and the perceived attractiveness of the hospital room were measured.

Results: Participants exposed to the hospital room with indoor plants reported less stress than those in the control condition. Mediation analysis confirmed that indoor plants in a hospital room reduce feelings of stress through the perceived attractiveness of the room.

Conclusion: This study confirms the stress-reducing properties of natural elements in the built healthcare environment. It also sheds light on the underlying mechanism causing this stress-reduction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Environment Design*
  • Environmental Health
  • Facility Design and Construction
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Patients' Rooms*
  • Perception*
  • Plants*
  • Sick Building Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological* / therapy
  • Ventilation