Appendectomy is an acute surgery characterized by localized abdominal pain requiring a relatively short hospitalization of up to 5 d. This is a comparatively standardized medical procedure with similar postoperative management in the uncomplicated cases. Appendectomy surgery, however, may create multiple stressors to patients, including pain and physical discomfort, fear of medical procedures, isolation from family and friends, and lack of familiarity with medical personnel, hospital equipment, and environment. Numerous studies suggest that when patients have greater stress associated with surgery, they typically experience more severe postoperative pain and a slower and more complicated postoperative recovery (Cohen and Williamson, 1991; Johnston, 1988; Johnston and Wallace, 1990). Some of the postoperative problems related to stress can be mediated through intakes of anesthetics and analgesics. However, these drugs have side effects that 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 nonpharmacologic 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 that have soothing and stress-reducing effects. Viewing nature or having plants present has been considered an effective positive distraction that 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 people-plant interactions provide physiological stress reduction (Chang and Chen, 2005; Coleman and Mattson, 1995; Lohr et al., 1996; Ulrich et al., 1991; Verderber and Reuman, 1987). This relaxation occurs remarkably quickly, almost within minutes (Ulrich and Simons, 1986). People in a natural/plant environment not only showed faster physical recovery from stress, but also improved psychological (Kaplan, 2001; Kaplan and Kaplan, 1995; Ulrich, 1979), 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 positive health outcomes of individuals, such as in pain reduction, less need for analgesics, and a quicker recovery from surgery (Diette et al., 2003; Lohr and Pearson-Mims, 2000; Park et al., 2004; Ulrich, 1984).
Clinical trials studying the health benefits of viewing indoor plants on stress and recovery of surgical patients within a hospital setting do not exist. This investigation used various medical and psychological measurements to determine if plants in hospital rooms had therapeutic influences on the health outcomes of appendectomy patients.
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