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Mapping review

Architecture and design for health and quality of life

Published Updated

The purpose of this report was to map and describe research in the field of health effects of the physical environment. The mapping was commissioned by Norsk Form in the autumn of 2006.

The purpose of this report was to map and describe research in the field of health effects of the physical environment. The mapping was commissioned by Norsk Form in the autumn of 2006.


Key message

We systematically searched for controlled effect studies and systematic reviews in international scientific databases, selected studies and systematic reviews according to preset criteria, categorized the included studies into sub-themes and summarised the reported results narratively in tables. We did not assess the quality of the studies.

We categorised the included studies (ne) and systematic reviews (n) into the following sub-themes: interior decoration/furnishing (n), room design (n=4), nature; plants, animals, sunlight (n), preventing falls and wandering (n=5), lighting (n=6), noise reduction (n=7), multisensory stimulation (n=5), distraction (n!), miscellaneous (n=5). We found most studies in the distraction category, but there are also studies that measure the effects of sunlight in patient rooms, the effects of refurbishing departments in both somatic and psychiatric hospitals, and the effects of noise reduction strategies by adapting the physical environment. The interventions that are described in the interior decoration/furnishing category are complex, and often include several different measures at the same time.

The literature search did not retrieve evaluations of the effect of artificial lighting for adults, or of the effect of wayfinding interventions.

In conclusion, there are controlled evaluations of the health effects of the physical environment. Such effects may be measured through controlled trials, and may contribute to a more relevant and reliable image of how architecture and design may be used as a curative means. Experimental research designs should to a greater extent be applied in this field of research.

About this publication

  • Year: 2007
  • By: Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services
  • Authors Hammerstrøm, Karianne Thune, Bjørndal, Arild.
  • ISSN (digital): 1890-1298
  • ISBN (digital): 978-82-8121-176-6