When faced with patients who have anxieties, as professionals we should do everything in our power to try to create a welcoming, calm environment that helps to allay these fears. Whilst some of us may try methods such as playing calming music or even scenting our waiting rooms with soothing fragrances, one thing that we often don’t consider is the appearance of waiting rooms and what this could mean for our patients.
Some of you may have heard that certain colours have been found to influence emotions, but research has also discovered that patterns can have an effect on our mood as well.[i] What is particularly interesting, is that these findings have led to people beginning to invent fabrics and other materials that change their appearance in order to influence people’s mood – psychotextiles.
In one experiment that I found, two researchers created four different examples of psychotextiles. Two of these fabrics oscillated between repeating and non-repeating patterns, and the other two had patterns formed from bold lines which transformed into softer patterns. These fabrics shifted between the two patterns on a gradient scale, gradually turning from one to another allowing the researchers to precisely pinpoint the exact moment that the change started to have an effect on the participants’ emotions.
The results found that by shifting between these patterns the researchers could actually change the mood of the people viewing the patterns at whim. Identical patterns with repeating, symmetrical motifs were found to be the most pleasing to people, whilst smaller, repeating square patterns or those with soft edges were found to be the most calming.[ii]
In light of these findings it’s important to consider – could dental practices harness the power of patterns to help to reduce anxiety for our patients? Even if psychotextiles are not possible at the moment, if we concentrate on introducing patterns that are guaranteed to be calming onto the walls or furnishings in our waiting rooms this could have a big impact on those who find visits unpleasant. Furthermore, when and if psychotextiles become available, the possible applications could be incredible – after all, imagine if we could use these fabrics and other materials that changed to help people regulate their moods accordingly? The possibilities are very exciting indeed.
For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999
[i] The Conversation. Psychotextiles Could be the Next Big thing in Fabrics. Link: https://theconversation.com/psychotextiles-could-be-next-big-thing-in-fabrics-65127 [Last accessed December 18].
[ii] Stylios, G., Chen, M. Psychotextiles and Their Interaction With the Human Brain. ScienceDirect DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100574-3.00011-4