Information and Environmental Stress: Report of a Hospital Intervention

Yona Nelson-Shulman

DOI: 10.2190/3WQP-R275-9FXY-3XNN


An intervention was undertaken in the admitting area of a large urban hospital for the purpose of alleviating patient stress due to long waits, congestion, and lack of information. Signs were mounted in the waiting area, instructing patients about registration procedures and orienting them to nearby amenities, and literature was distributed about the hospital and its admitting procedures. The responses of ninety-four elective inpatients who received this information were compared with those of an equivalent patient group who entered the hospital under normal circumstances, i.e., without information.

Informed patients were found to be more knowledgeable about admitting procedures and available amenities. They were more self-reliant and made fewer demands on staff. In contrast, uninformed patients rated the hospital less favorably and were found to have elevated heart rates. Patients admitted under conditions of higher density gave more negative responses than those admitted under lower density conditions. In certain instances, information was shown to benefit more critical patient subgroups. Practical implications of these findings are discussed, with particular attention paid to the role of cognitive factors in mediating responses to stress and density.

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