How Personal Traits Influence the Soothing Power of Nature during Wait Times

Greg Howard
3rd February, 2024

How Personal Traits Influence the Soothing Power of Nature during Wait Times

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Recent research explored how the presence of plants in emergency department waiting areas impacts patients' experiences while they wait. The study looked at three aspects: how anxious patients feel, how they judge the quality of the service, and their perception of how long they have to wait. The researchers were particularly interested in seeing if personal traits such as cognitive thinking styles and individuals' connection to nature influenced these experiences. Nature is well-known for its calming effects, and healthcare facilities often try to harness this by incorporating natural elements in their design. However, whether or not these elements can make waiting for medical care a less stressful experience has been less clear, especially when considering the diverse backgrounds of patients. The study took a unique approach by having participants experience two different virtual emergency department waiting rooms—one with plants and one without. A total of 116 people took part, providing a way to compare the effects of greenery on wait experiences. The results were promising for plant lovers. The presence of plants in waiting rooms did indeed help to lower anxiety, positively influenced people's perceptions of the service quality, and even made the wait time seem shorter. Interestingly, how people think—their cognitive thinking style—played a role in how much they were affected by the plants. However, a person's overall connection to nature didn't significantly change how they perceived the waiting room with plants. These findings underscore the importance of considering patient traits when integrating natural elements in healthcare settings. By understanding that people respond differently to the presence of plants based on their way of thinking, healthcare providers can better design waiting areas that cater to a range of patient needs. The research, which adds to the understanding of how nature affects patient experiences in healthcare environments, suggests that wisely chosen design features could make waiting for medical care a more pleasant experience for many.



Main Study

1) Moderating Effects of Individual Traits on the Association Between Nature and Patient Wait Experiences.

Published 2nd February, 2024

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