67 Nature and Surgery

Based on Research by Roger S. Ulrich, Ph.D.. Psychology Science Minute written by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D..

Does viewing nature from a hospital window influence a surgical patient’s emotional state and affect their recovery?  Stressed persons observing scenes with vegetation and especially water, compared with urban scenes lacking natural elements, apparently have positive feelings and reduced fear, perhaps by blocking stressful thoughts.  Thus patients may benefit from viewing nature that draws their interest and attention and provides peace and relaxation.

To find out, environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich reviewed recovery records of patients randomly assigned to rooms with a single window viewing deciduous trees or with a window viewing a brown brick wall. The patients had the same nursing staff, arrangement of beds, and double occupancy.  Patients, ages 20-69. all had gall bladder surgery without complications. Those with windows viewing trees spent less time in the hospital, had fewer negative attitudes recorded by nurses, took less narcotics to reduce pain, and had slightly fewer minor post-operative complications.

How essential is designing hospitals to have views of natural areas or gardens? It speeds recovery and shortens hospital stays.  Perhaps giving flowers is actually important to healing; bringing nature to the patient as well as demonstrating loved ones’ support!   Billowing clouds, interesting trees, or flowing water…nature’s best may be essential to our health.


Roger S. Ulrich (1984). View through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery. Science, New Series, 224, 4647, 420-421.

Published by: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1692984

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