Impact of visual art on patient behavior in the emergency department waiting room

J Emerg Med. 2012 Jul;43(1):172-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2011.06.138. Epub 2012 Feb 9.


Background: Wait times have been reported to be one of the most important concerns for people visiting emergency departments (EDs). Affective states significantly impact perception of wait time. There is substantial evidence that art depicting nature reduces stress levels and anxiety, thus potentially impacting the waiting experience.

Study objectives: To analyze the effect of visual art depicting nature (still and video) on patients' and visitors' behavior in the ED.

Methods: A pre-post research design was implemented using systematic behavioral observation of patients and visitors in the ED waiting rooms of two hospitals over a period of 4 months. Thirty hours of data were collected before and after new still and video art was installed at each site.

Results: Significant reduction in restlessness, noise level, and people staring at other people in the room was found at both sites. A significant decrease in the number of queries made at the front desk and a significant increase in social interaction were found at one of the sites.

Conclusions: Visual art has positive effects on the ED waiting experience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Art*
  • Behavior*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Nature*
  • Noise
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Psychomotor Agitation / psychology
  • Time Factors