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Prev Med. 2008 Sep;47(3):279-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.01.013. Epub 2008 Jan 26.

Stress-reducing effects of indoor plants in the built healthcare environment: the mediating role of perceived attractiveness.

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Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, Department of Marketing Communication and Consumer Psychology, University of Twente, The Netherlands.



Natural elements in the built healthcare environment have shown to hold potential stress-reducing properties. In order to shed light on the underlying mechanism of stress-reducing effects of nature, the present study investigates whether the stress-reducing effects of indoor plants occur because such an environment is perceived as being more attractive.


A single-factor between-subjects experimental design (nature: indoor plants vs. no plants) was used in which participants (n=77) were presented with a scenario describing hospitalization with a possible legionella diagnosis. The study was conducted from March to May 2007 in the Netherlands. Subsequently, they were exposed to a photo of a hospital room. In this room were either indoor plants, or there was a painting of an urban environment on the wall. Afterwards, perceived stress and the perceived attractiveness of the hospital room were measured.


Participants exposed to the hospital room with indoor plants reported less stress than those in the control condition. Mediation analysis confirmed that indoor plants in a hospital room reduce feelings of stress through the perceived attractiveness of the room.


This study confirms the stress-reducing properties of natural elements in the built healthcare environment. It also sheds light on the underlying mechanism causing this stress-reduction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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