A new study published in the October issue of the Health Environments Research & Design Journal confirms the positive impact of Luminous SkyCeilings on acute stress and anxiety in a controlled clinical setting.

Based on a new study conducted by Texas Tech University in collaboration with Covenant Health and the Sky Factory, the paper, ‘The Impact of Simulated Nature on Patient Outcomes: A Study of Photographic Sky Compositions’ examined the behavioural and clinical impact of Sky Factory’s biophilic illusions in a medical-surgical inpatient unit at Covenant Health Hospital in Lubbock, TX.

Conducted over an eight-month period, the study analysed data from 181 subjects who were assigned to identical rooms where the only environmental variable separating the control and the experimental units was a 24 sq. ft. Luminous SkyCeiling directly above the bed.

Lead researcher and one of the co-authors of the paper, Dr Pati commented that only a few studies since Ulrich’s original window study over 30 years ago have set out to measure and quantify the difference made by a simulated nature intervention in a patient room environment. This research group is also the first to study and quantify a simulated view to nature designed to be perceived not as an artefact but as an architectural feature of the room.

The single-blind study found a difference in Acute Stress by more than half (53.40%) and a difference in Anxiety by more than a third (34.79%) in patients assigned to experimental rooms where the virtual skylights were placed.

According to Dr Pati, the Open Sky Compositions used in this study are the same photographic images used in the fMRI study that uncovered the neural correlates of nature stimuli. Described by the research team as a pioneering effort in neuro-architecture, Texas Tech’s fMRI study earned the Design & Health International Academy Award for Best International Research Project (2014).

The Open Sky Compositions used in the design of Luminous SkyCeilings are part of an artistic framework called Open Skies Image Technology. This three-dimensional approach marries visual content with architectural context along with 20-plus design parameters, creating a genuine illusion of nature.

Patricia Freier, MSN, RN-BC, RCIS, Project Specialist QI at Covenant Health comments that their two newest renovation projects have incorporated the SkyCeilings in the design.

Sky Factory’s Luminous SkyCeilings are the only virtual skylights that have been the subject of multiple peer-reviewed published studies, as well as the recipient of international architectural awards for their design.

Sky Factory CEO Skye Witherspoon explains that the purpose of their installations is to enrich and sustain life, with their Open Sky Compositions designed to convey the intangible healing beauty of nature’s vastness.

She adds that Sky Factory pursues the highest standards in research to quantify the positive clinical benefits of their illusions of nature on patients, visitors , staff or anyone occupying enclosed interiors without access to the restorative views of nature, which are so often absent in the built environment.