Once again, healthcare design made mainstream news this week as NBC News posted a piece on the healing power of art on its website. For the most part, it was good, quoting a lot of knowledgeable sources and sharing interesting facts, like:
- More than 40% of healthcare facilities had arts programs in 2007
- More than half of veterans medical facilities offer arts programming at the patient bedside
- A recent study found that blood flow increased 10 percent to the "joy response" part of the brain when subjects saw a beautiful painting
- More than 60 percent of patients at the Cleveland Clinic reported a reduction in stress from the hospital's contemporary art collection
But those reporters, they always have to throw in a little controversy. This time it was about evidence-based design.
Describing evidence-based design as "basing art decisions on health data," the reporter quoted two people at McGill University School of Architecture who criticized evidence-based design for not being rigorous enough. But it seemed to me that they were only referring to the evidence itself.
Because it's much more than just evidence. It's a process by which you make design decisions based on the best available evidence linking the design of the physical environment to outcomes, and then measure the results of those decisions. If you do all 8 steps, you produce more evidence.
I'll agree with the folks at McGill that the evidence in certain areas isn't all that strong. But it's pretty strong in the area of artwork (read my recent post on this topic). The reporter completely missed that in this piece.
No matter. I'm happy to see the mainstream media covering healthcare design. Just as long as everyone understands that you can't believe everything you read in print.
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