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Ben Taub General Hospital, Houston, TX

September 2011
EDAC Advocate Firm Project
American Art Resources


Firm's role on the project:  Planning, Programming, Architecture, Design, Interiors 

EBD Goal 

To improve the patient and visitor experience in the Emergency Department (ED) waiting room of a large community hospital with long wait times by introducing evidence-based art. To analyze the effect of art through rigorous research.


Selection of Artwork: Decisions on content, size, and placement were critical to ensure that a) the artwork could have the maximum healing impact and b) the installation was not disruptive to the hospital’s daily functioning.
Appropriate Research Metric: Researchers developed a systematic behavioral observation tool to measure changes in patients’ behavior before and after art was installed in the waiting room.
Flexibility: During five months of data collection, various procedural and environmental changes occurred in the ED. Observers had to be adaptable and use careful documentation to ensure consistent reporting.
Funding: Patient feedback indicated that the environment was a key determinant of patient dissatisfaction with waiting time, however funding for art was not a priority. To secure funding, the team submitted a grant proposal to The Center for Health Design’s Research Coalition, which funded the production of the artwork and a portion of the research. Artists donated content for the project in the interest of research. American Art Resources and Ben Taub funded additional costs.


Early in the project, a strong team was established including consultants from AAR, nursing staff, facility designers, administrators, and researchers. This team oversaw the art selection, installation, and the research project. The intervention was based on previous literature in the field of evidence-based art and consisted of nature images in two modalities: A rotating video display and framed-art printed on canvas.
Subject behavior was measured by systematic behavioral observation over a period of one hour. Thirty observation hours were conducted before the intervention, and 30 hours after the intervention. Noise levels were recorded during each observation. Observational data revealed a significant reduction in restless behavior and an increase in socialization, There was also a significant decrease in front-desk queries and in noise levels.
The research study revealed that evidence-based artwork could positively impact patient experience by reducing restlessness, which could be an indicator of patient anxiety and stress. The results from this study, and findings from another site, will be published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.