The Healthcare Design Magazine
Quick-what’s your favorite color? Does it make you feel good? The idea that certain colors can affect how we feel is not new. Many believe certain colors can make you more productive, relaxed, or excited, for example.
For the last 20 years, I have specialized in healthcare interior design and healing environments. Over the years, clients have often asked me what colors are most appropriate for healthcare settings.
You might assume that there is a link between color and patient health, perhaps. Yet you may be surprised to learn that, to date, color guidelines for healthcare environments have not been supported by any scientific research.
The Center for Health Design, based in Concord, California, partnered with the Coalition for Health Environments Research (CHER) to produce a report written by Ruth Brent Tofle, Benyamin Schwartz, So-Yeon Yoon, and Andrea Max-Royale titled “Color in Healthcare Environments: A Critical Review of the Research Literature.”
Utilizing online searches, the authors scanned more than 3,000 titles to critically review relevant research to answer these two questions:
1. What is empirically known about human response to color and how, if at all, does color influence human perception or behavior in a specific setting?
2. Which color design guidelines for healthcare environments, if any, have been supported by scientific research findings?
The authors attempted to separate the common myths and realities in color studies. They found there was not enough evidence to make a direct correlation between particular colors and health outcomes.
They also found that specifying particular colors to influence emotional or mental and behavioral states had not been substantiated-there is no evidence that a one-to-one relationship exists between any particular color and an emotion. Our emotional responses to colors are learned and affected by culture, and by a person’s physiological and psychological makeup.