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Acta Oncol. 2013 Feb;52(2):440-6. doi: 10.3109/0284186X.2012.741323. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

Healing environments in cancer treatment and care. Relations of space and practice in hematological cancer treatment.

Author information

1
National Institute of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark. mtho@si-folkesundhed.dk

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Given the growing attention to the importance of design in shaping healing hospital environments this study extends the understanding of healing environments, beyond causal links between environmental exposure and health outcome by elucidating how environments and practices interrelate.

MATERIAL AND METHODS:

The study was conducted as an ethnographic fieldwork from March 2011 to September 2011 at the Department of Haematology at Odense University Hospital, Denmark, systematically using participant observation and interviews as research strategies. It included 20 patients, four of who were followed closely over an extended time period.

RESULTS:

Through thematic analysis five key concepts emerged about the social dynamics of hospital environments: practices of self; creating personal space; social recognition; negotiating space; and ambiguity of space and care. Through these concepts, the study demonstrates how the hospital environment is a flow of relations between space and practice that changes and challenges a structural idea of design and healing. Patients' sense of healing changes with the experience of progression in treatment and the capacity of the hospital space to incite an experience of homeliness and care. Furthermore, cancer patients continuously challenge the use and limits of space by individual objects and practices of privacy and home.

DISCUSSION:

Healing environments are complex relations between practices, space and care, where recognition of the individual patient's needs, values and experiences is key to developing the environment to support the patient quality of life. The present study holds implications for practice to inform design of future hospital environments for cancer treatment. The study points to the importance for being attentive to the need for flexible spaces in hospitals that recognize the dynamics of healing, by providing individualized care, relating to the particular and changing needs of patients supporting their potential and their challenged condition with the best care possible.

PMID:
23190358
DOI:
10.3109/0284186X.2012.741323
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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