6 things patients want from their hospital room

New research in the Journal of Health Environments Research and Design reveals patients care most about privacy, accessibility and comfort when it comes to hospital rooms.

"When we're sick and feeling vulnerable, it's especially important to feel in control of our surroundings — privacy, room temperature, lighting, window blinds and having things within reach," said Emily Patterson, PhD, an associate professor at Columbus-based Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Dr. Patterson and her team developed five full-scale hospital rooms and asked study participants for their reactions. Participants included 61 patients and family members who had experienced a three-day hospitalization in the last year. They walked through the rooms and also were surveyed about general patient room designs.

The study authors analyzed participants' comments to find key expectations for hospital room design.

Patients want the following things:

  • Ability to control their privacy and not be "on display" to people in the hallway
  • Easy access to the bathroom and to be able to use it without being seen or heard by visitors
  • A safe in the room for their valuables
  • To know who is entering their room and what role they play
  • Ability to have eye-level conversations
  • Easy-to-reach outlets

"Some of the findings are inexpensive and possible to incorporate, even without changing architectural design," Dr. Patterson said. "Each change can improve the patient and family experience by reducing unnecessary stress and anxiety and enhancing the healing process."

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