Surgery is a threatening experience with multiple stressful components such as physical pain and discomfort, worries about illness, isolation from family and friends, fear of medical procedures, and lack of familiarity with medical personnel, hospital equipment, and the sterile hospital environment. Numerous studies suggested that greater stress or anxiety associated with surgical experience is typically related to more severe postoperative pain and a slower and more complicated postoperative recovery (Cohen and Williamson, 1991; Johnston and Wallace, 1990; Mathews and Ridgeway, 1981). Some of the postoperative problems related to stress can be mediated through intakes of anesthetics and analgesics; however, these drugs have side effects, which can produce postoperative physiological problems (e.g., vomiting, headaches, nausea, and pain at the incision site), drug dependency, and even be fatal if not properly administered (Abbott and Abbott, 1995; Coniam and Diamond, 1994). Therefore, it would be useful to develop nonpharmacological approaches to improving the patient experiences with pain and stress during hospitalization.
To promote the speed of postoperative recovery and to improve the quality of life during hospitalizations, it is important to provide patients with not only the best treatment possible, but also to remove such sources of stress and to counter them with positive distractions. The viewing of nature and/or plants has been considered an effective positive distraction, which may provide ample involuntary attention, increase positive feelings, block or reduce worrisome thoughts, and promote restoration from stress (Ulrich, 1992). Researchers who have assessed the impact of nature/plants on human health have suggested that nature and plant experiences are positively associated with human physical (Chang and Chen, 2005; Coleman and Mattson, 1995; Ulrich et al., 1991), psychological (Kaplan, 2001; Kaplan and Kaplan, 1995), emotional (Adachi et al., 2000; Ulrich, 1981; Ulrich et al., 1991), and cognitive health (Cimprich, 1993; Hartig et al., 1991; Tennessen and Cimprich, 1995). In addition, viewing nature/plants is linked to pain reduction, less need for analgesics, and fast recovery from surgery (Diette et al., 2003; Park et al., 2004; Ulrich, 1984).
Clinical trials concerning the health benefits of viewing indoor plants on stress and recovery of surgical patients within a hospital setting do not exist. This investigation determined if exposing surgical patients to plants influences stress reduction and recovery from surgery using various medical and psychological measurements.
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