Better Hospital Design May Reduce Violence
By Erin Weaver
Patient stress and aggression are widespread in psychiatric hospitals, with psychiatric patients worldwide averaging 2.24 violent incidents during their time in the hospital. New research in Sweden has identified a number of design factors correlated with reduced aggression. Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and Gothenburg University, who presented their findings at the ARCH12 conference on medical architecture in November 2012, proposed that aggression results from stressors such as crowding and noise. These stressors can be mitigated by key design elements, including private rooms, moveable furniture in common spaces,, daylighting, and views of nature. The researchers identified a facility that opened in 2006 as having many more of those key features than the building it replaced or another hospital of similar size used as a control; they obtained data from all three facilities on the annual number of incidents in which patients were put in physical restraints or received compulsory injections. Compared to the old building, physical restraint incidents decreased by 44% in the new facility, and compulsory injections decreased by 21%. At the control hospital over the same period, such injections rose 29% for unknown reasons.