Background: Clinical trials have not been reported concerning the health benefits of viewing indoor plants on stress and recovery of surgical patients within a hospital setting. Using various medical and psychologic measurements, this study performed a randomized clinical trial with surgical patients to evaluate whether plants in hospital rooms have therapeutic influences.
Methods: Ninety (90) patients recovering from a hemorrhoidectomy were randomly assigned to either control or plant rooms. With half the patients, live plants were placed in their rooms during postoperative recovery periods. Data collected for each patient included length of hospitalization, analgesics used for postoperative pain control, vital signs, ratings of pain intensity, pain distress, anxiety and fatigue, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Form Y-1, the Environmental Assessment Scale, and the Patient's Room Satisfaction Questionnaire.
Results: Viewing plants during the recovery period had a positive influence linking directly to health outcomes of surgical patients. Patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had significantly more positive physiologic responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure, and lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue than patients in the control room. Patients with plants also felt more positively about their rooms and evaluated them with higher satisfaction when compared with patients in similar rooms without plants. Based on patients' comments, plants brightened up the room environment, reduced stress, and also conveyed positive impressions of hospital employees caring for patients.
Conclusions: Findings of this study confirmed the therapeutic value of plants in the hospital environment as a noninvasive, inexpensive, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients. Health care professionals and hospital administrators need to consider the use of plants and flowers to enhance healing environments for patients.