Influence of positive distractions on children in two clinic waiting areas

Debajyoti Pati, Upali Nanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the influence of positive distraction on the behavior and activity of children in two clinic waiting areas. Background: People spend a considerable proportion of time waiting in hospitals. Studies show that the quality of waiting environments influences the perception of quality of care and caregivers, that perception of waiting time is a better indicator of patient satisfaction than actual waiting time, and that the waiting environment contributes to the perception of wait time. In fact, the attractiveness of the physical environment in waiting areas has been shown to be significantly associated with higher perceived quality of care, less anxiety, and higher reported positive interaction with staff. Can positive distractions in waiting areas improve the waiting experience, as indicated by the behavior and activities of children waiting for treatment? Method: Five distraction conditions were randomly introduced in the waiting area of the dental and cardiac clinics of a major pediatric tertiary care center through a single plasma screen intervention. The attention, behavior, and activities of waiting children were recorded. Data on 158 pediatric patients were collected over 12 days during December 2008 and January 2009. Results: Data analysis shows that the introduction of distraction conditions was associated with more calm behavior and less fine and gross movement, suggesting significant calming effects associated with the distraction conditions. Data also suggest that positive distraction conditions are significant attention grabbers and could be an important contributor to improving the waiting experience for children in hospitals by improving environmental attractiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-140
Number of pages17
JournalHealth Environments Research and Design Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011


  • Children
  • Evidence-based design
  • Pediatric population
  • Positive distraction
  • Waiting areas


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