• adolescent;
  • anxiety;
  • health-care design;
  • health-care environment;
  • paediatric;
  • systematic review

Norton-Westwood D. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2012; 18: 7–11

The health-care environment through the eyes of a child—Does it soothe or provoke anxiety?

Health-care environments can be intimidating and scary places especially in the eyes of a child. When attempting to create spaces that are engaging to children, how do we know what works and are the needs the same across the age groups? In a 2011 comprehensive systematic review, a total of 20 studies were reviewed to answer the question: Can the health-care environment have an impact on children's anxiety? The results of the review showed that the built environment can support and enhance the coping strategies utilized by children, however further research is needed. The aim of this article is to summarize the findings of the review highlighting simple design strategies of minimal cost to large construction projects warranting extensive resources.

Careful evaluation of space incorporating end-user input can result in age appropriate environments that support safe, quality care and enhance a positive health-care experience for all.