Distraction imagery takes the pain out of medical visits » DIRTT Environmental Solutions

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In the world of healthcare, sometimes distraction is a good thing

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 or uncertainty.1 When it comes to the doctor, that number is closer to 34%.2 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.3 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.

The lowdown on 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 of the negative thoughts.

Distraction imagery in a clinic Distraction imagery in a clinic

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.4 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.

Putting distractions to work

Distraction imagery works by occupying your brain in situations where you’re uneasy. You focus on the external visual stimulus (aka the bright colors or interesting art) and that puts all those bad feelings on the back burner. 

Think of the last time you were sitting in a patient room at the hospital. Or at the dentist waiting for the inevitable procedure to come. There’s a pretty good chance that you were looking all around the environment searching for something to take your mind off of your situation. If you were lucky enough to find something, that’s probably all you focused on for the duration of your visit. That’s what distraction imagery is all about.

Spot the difference Spot the difference

A well-designed space has these distractions to make a patient’s stay a good as it possibly can be.

DIRTT brings the distraction

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 can apply 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.

A patient care room with distraction imagery A patient care room with distraction imagery

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.

Excel Health in Calgary, AB Excel Health in Calgary, AB

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 takes distraction imagery a step further. Our solutions can create a whole new world designed to transport the patient from their situation. Like this project at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Children's Hospital Colorado Children's Hospital Colorado

Combining this imagery with our Willow Glass finishes isn’t just a good-looking option. It creates a hygienic, easy-to-clean space. It’s perfect for healthcare settings.

Leave the fear behind

The future of construction is giving us a rare opportunity. For the first time ever, we have the tools and ability 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.


Sources and further reading:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/dont-fear-the-dentist#1
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4351276/
  3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181015084624.htm
  4. https://www.c-sgroup.com/-/media/files/literature/awp/flyers/sally_dankner_white_paper.ashx
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3052954/

DIRTT is a global leader in industrialized construction. Its system of physical products and digital tools empowers organizations, together with construction and design leaders, to build high-performing, adaptable, interior environments. Operating in the commercial, healthcare, education, and public sector markets, DIRTT’s system provides total design freedom, and greater certainty in cost, schedule, and outcomes. Headquartered in the US and Canada, DIRTT trades on Nasdaq under the symbol “DRTT” and on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “DRT”.