Healing power of nature: Survey helps to improve outdoor spaces

Two students write on clipboards in a large garden space.

Graduate students in Italy, using a survey developed at Texas A&M’s Center for Health Systems & Design, have found that many outdoor spaces in Milan nursing homes could benefit from improvements that help residents access and experience nature’s healing properties.

“Many researchers have demonstrated that outdoor spaces are important health-promoting components of long-term care settings,” said Susan Rodiek, an associate professor of architecture, who developed the survey in 2007. “Benefits from spending time outdoors include improved mood, better sleeping patterns, hormone balance and increased Vitamin D absorption.”

Rodiek presented the survey at the June 2012 Second Global Congress for Qualitative Health Research in Milan. In attendance was Cristina Ferarra, a graduate landscape architecture student at the University of Genoa, who later joined graduate students at the University of Milan using Rodiek’s survey to evaluate 94 open spaces at 67 nursing homes in Milan. The students shared their findings with Italian nursing home administrators and government regulators.

More at the College of Architecture.