SUNSHINE POWER

Patients on the “sunny side” of the hospital needed less pain medication.

Scientists and physicians designed a study to measure the effect of sunlight on post-operative patients. Patients were housed either on the sunny side of the hospital unit, or on the side receiving less natural sunlight.

The intensity of the sunlight in each room was measured each day. Psychological questionnaires designed to gauge patient experiences and reactions were administered the day after surgery, and again at discharge. Patient charts were maintained and compared; dosages of pain medication administered to each patient were noted. Statistical analysis was performed to measure and compare stress, pain, medication, and medication costs.

The summary: exposing patients who have undergone spinal surgery to increased amounts of natural sunlight during their hospital recovery period resulted in decreased stress, lower levels of pain, less analgesic medication use, and lower pain medication costs.

J.M. Walch; K. Choi, R. Day, J.D. Kang, B.S. Rabin, J.N. Williams, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Pathology (Psychosom Med; Jan-Feb., 2005)