Distraction Imagery Takes the Pain Out of Medical Visits
In healthcare, distracting the patient allows them to focus on getting better
It doesn’t matter how old you are – no one really likes going to the doctor or dentist. It’s stressful. It can be painful. And there’s always fear of the unknown. But for many people it’s more than just uncomfortable. It’s dangerous. Today, up to 20% of adults avoid going to the dentist because of fear and uncertainty. When it comes to the doctor, that number is closer to 34%. All this adds up to millions of people who are putting themselves at risk each year.
These numbers are substantially higher when it comes to children. More than half of all children between the ages two and five say they fear doctor visits. This is a big concern for medical professionals. They’re worried many are at risk of holding on to this negative outlook towards the medical system into adulthood.
So, what can we do? One potential solution is making those doctor visits a little more bearable using a psychological technique known as distraction imagery.
What is distraction imagery?
Distraction imagery is anything visual that can positively draw your mind away from your anxiety and fear. Interesting graphics. Engaging artwork. Bright colors. Really anything visual that takes your focus off the negative thoughts.
There’s still lots of research to be done, but it’s generally accepted that environment has a huge impact on the way we feel. If a healthcare space is well designed and takes a human-centric approach, it can have a tangible effect on patient anxiety. Reducing stress gives patients the ability to heal more effectively.
According to the authors of The Impact of Psychological Stress on Wound Healing, “Greater fear or distress prior to surgery has been associated with poorer outcomes including longer hospital stays, more postoperative complications, and higher rates of rehospitalization.”5 Creating environments that alleviate this distress is not only good for the patients, but the medical system as a whole. It allows more patients to be treated in a given amount of time.
There’s a lot to consider when creating this type of environment. But using distraction imagery could be a valuable way of meeting the goal of patient care.
Integrating distraction imagery into your design
When building a space using conventional construction, bringing in distraction imagery often delivers lackluster results. Poor quality graphics, construction that is disruptive to patients, and surfaces that aren’t easily cleaned are just some of the downfalls. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
DIRTT applies custom graphics to our wall panels at the factory to create a nearly endless number of choices for your space. Photographs, landscapes, and abstract works of art become the physical embodiment of the space. It creates an environment where distraction imagery isn’t just an add on. It’s an essential part of the experience. Just imagine, floor to ceiling images of local scenery that a patient can recognize and identify with.
We’ve all seen how distracted a kid with an iPad can be. Imagine what a massive screen imbedded in the wall could do. Integrated Technology creates a seamless user experience.
Ceilings integrated with backlit artwork or sky-scapes to create the impression of an open expanse above. This gives patients the sense that they are close to the outdoors, a reality that may be very far away from them while recovering in their beds.
DIRTT solutions can create a whole new world designed to transport the patient from their situation. Like this project at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
In healthcare, distracting the patient allows them to focus on getting better.
Leave the fear behind
Industrialized construction is giving us the opportunity to create healthcare environments that patients aren’t afraid of. It gives people who hate doctor visits the confidence to seek medical help when they need it. Sometimes a little bit of distraction is a good thing.
Resources and Further Reading
WebMD: Don't Fear the Dentist ↗
National Library of Medicine: Why Do People Avoid Medical Care? ↗
Science Daily: Half of Parents Say Their Preschooler Fears Doctor's Visits ↗
National Library of Medicine: The Impact of Psychological Stress on Wound Healing: Methods and Mechanisms ↗
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