The elderly population is continuously growing, and the number of older adults living in an institutional setting has been steadily but slowly increased. Because of a higher chance of having psychological disorders among people living in institutional settings than people living in non-institutional settings, providing a supportive institutional setting to the residents is critical to enhance their wellness. The theory of supportive design suggests healthcare facilities can lower people’s stress levels via three conditions (i.e., perceived control, social support, and positive distractions). The present study builds on research on supportive design by investigating the impact of positive distractions and ambient scent environment intervention on nursing home residents' health and wellness. When considering ways to promote wellness, complementary and alternative medicine is another method that has promise. An ambient scent environment, especially, has been widely explored for its impact on people’s health status (e.g., physical and psychological health). Therefore, this study conducted a single-blind and placebo-randomized controlled study to investigate impacts of ambient scent environment, as a positive distraction, on residents’ depression levels and quality of sleep. The recruited residents (N=58) were randomly assigned into either the intervention group, which received a 1% dilution of lavender scent for two weeks nearby their bedside, or the placebo group, which received a non-scent for two weeks. Their depression levels were measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale, and their quality of sleep was measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index at baseline and follow-up, which was two-weeks from the baseline. In a post-experimental interview, the residents were also asked three things they liked and wanted to improve in the living environment. Based on the t-tests, both intervention and placebo groups had improvement on depression, and only the intervention group had improvement on quality of sleep. However, further regression analyses indicated the intervention had no measurable effect on either depression or quality of sleep. The responses from the open-ended questions support the theory of supportive design in that the residents reported appreciation of and desire for perceived control, social support, and positive distraction in their living environment. Regarding the effectiveness of ambient scent environment, more controlled studies with rigorous methodology and larger samples are needed to build on the findings.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2019. Major: Design, Housing and Apparel. Advisors: Abimbola Asojo, Michael Oakes. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 205 pages.
The Impact of Ambient Scent Environment on Residents’ Wellness and Their Perception of Interior Environments in Long-Term Care Facilities.
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