Post-occupancy evaluation of healing gardens in a pediatric cancer center Academic Article uri icon


  • This study evaluates three healing gardens surrounding a pediatric cancer center. All gardens contained seating, flowers and plants, but varied in size, features, and in user groups' access to them. A post-occupancy evaluation (POE) yielded a dataset of 1400 garden-users for whom demographic information, activities, and length-of-stay were recorded. Results indicate differential usage patterns across gardens, user category (patient, visitor, or staff), and age (adults and children). The largest garden with most direct patient access was the most used. Staff mostly used the gardens to walk-through or to sit and eat, rarely interacting with features intended for active engagement. Despite patient and child-friendly designs, the overwhelming majority of visitors were adults who mostly engaged in sedentary activities. Children who did use the gardens interacted with garden features significantly more than adults. Although patient rooms are situated at ground-level around the gardens to promote window views of the gardens, the findings suggest an inverse relationship between patient window use and the number of people in the gardens. Finally, preliminary data suggest that emotional distress and pain are lower for all groups when in the gardens than when inside the hospital. Provisional design implications of these findings are discussed. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Sherman, S. A., Varni, J. W., Ulrich, R. S., & Malcarne, V. L.

citation count

  • 113

complete list of authors

  • Sherman, Sandra A||Varni, James W||Ulrich, Roger S||Malcarne, Vanessa L

publication date

  • October 2005