Creating a calm, relaxing clinical space for your clients, especially when working deep in the ear canal, can help alleviate anxiety and uncertainty your clients may experience and enhance their satisfaction with treatment.
Think of the last time you experienced a deep sense of relaxation and calm. What was the environment like in that moment? Were you at the beach?… In a lush green park or forest?… Sitting on the sofa in a cozy room?
The environments we find ourselves in can play a significant role in how we feel at any given moment and can even help alleviate an otherwise stressful or anxious experience. Why does this matter to us as HCPs?
Well, research shows that reducing anxiety or nervousness in clients can increase their satisfaction with treatment and even improve overall outcomes.1 So how can we use the environment to alleviate anxiety, encourage clients to adopt hearing aids and differentiate from the local competition?
Take a look around your office with a fresh perspective. How does the space make you feel? Is it calming? Is it a place you feel you could relax in? If not, let’s take a look at some easy ways to elevate the mood and elevate your clinic success:
In a study of patients undergoing chemotherapy, patients who were exposed to visual art in the treatment room reported lower rates of anxiety and depression than those who had not been exposed to art.2
In another study, patients recovering from open heart surgery reported lower anxiety when exposed to landscape art in their post-operative room than did patients exposed to no art or abstract art.3 It is clear that art, especially art inspired by nature like landscapes, has a positive effect on clients and providers alike, reporting it boosts morale and leads to more positive outcomes.
How can we harness this information to our benefit as HCPs? Look for opportunities to add landscape imagery as art within treatment rooms or the lobby. This may help reduce anxiety and provide a calming influence on your clients and their families.
As audiologists, we are often required to have large amounts of stock, accessories, supplies, educational and programming equipment to help a wide range of clients regardless of what technology they are fit with. The result? Sometimes our desks can overflow with a clutter of supplies, papers, and other items.
Studies have shown that clutter in the workplace can heighten stress and negatively impact both productivity and well-being.4 Look for opportunities to clear clutter from public view.
Divide supplies into what you use daily, what you use weekly, what you use monthly, and what you use yearly. Ensure easy access to daily and weekly supplies at your desk while placing monthly and yearly supplies elsewhere to make room for what you need more regular access to. This will help ensure a clutter free environment that is conducive to relaxation for your clients.
Ironically, audiology clinics can be noisy places themselves. Clients and staff talking, doors opening and closing, videos playing in the lobby and other sources of noise can sometimes overwhelm clients.
One easy way to encourage your clients to relax: water features. Studies show installed water features like bubble fountains and other water features have a relaxing effect on the brain and can reduce anxiety.5 This can also help drown out ancillary sounds your clients do not need to hear. Calming music can also be used to mask unwanted noises in the clinical environment and contribute to a calm environment.
Cultivating a clinic space that is calm and relaxing is easy to do and can go a long way in ensuring your clients have a rewarding experience in your practice. In an environment of reduced anxiety, your clients can experience increased satisfaction with treatment and even improvements in their overall outcomes. With some simple, easy to implement upgrades your clients can find solace in coming to your office for their hearing care needs and you and your practice can benefit as well.
1. Ulrich, R.S., Zimring, C., Zhu, X., DuBose, J., Seo, H.B., Choi, Y.S., Quan, X., Joseph, A. (2008). A Review of the Research Literature on Evidence-Based Healthcare Design. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 1(3), 61-125.
2. Staricoff R, Loppert S. Integrating the arts into healthcare: can we effect clinical outcomes? In: Kirklin D, Richardson R, eds. The Healing Environment: Without and Within. London: RCP; 2003. pp. 63–79
3. Ulrich RS, Lunden O. (1993). Effects of exposure to nature and abstract pictures on patients recovery from heart surgery. Psychophysiology: S1: 7
4. Dao, T.N., & Ferrari, J.R. (2020). The negative side of office clutter: Impact of work-related well-being and job satisfaction. North American Journal of Psychology, 22, 441-454.
5. Gould van Praag, C., Garfinkel, S., Sparasci, O. et al. (2017). Mind-wandering and alterations to default mode network connectivity when listening to naturalistic versus artificial sounds. Sci Rep 7, 45273. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep45273