Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Editor’s note: May 2010

By Maria DiDanieli   

Features Education Profession

What do patients feel or think when they walk into your office, especially when they see it for the first time? 

What do patients feel or think when they walk into your office, especially when they see it for the first time? 

If there’s one thing that can be learned through heightening one’s awareness of environmental issues, it’s that our surroundings have a bearing on our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. I am not only referring to vehicle emissions, accumulation of non-biodegradable refuse, chemicals in our drinking water or the depletion of entire species of animals. Of course, these things warrant everyone’s attention but I would like to consider, for a moment, how our man-made surroundings, namely the spaces we live in, work in, or just visit, impact our physical state, moods, productivity, and even the ability to heal.


This point is very significant for health-care practitioners who establish clinics to which patients come for care. A practice setting can instil (or resurrect) either a feeling of calm and a determination to improve, or a gripping fear and sense of despair that could block a patient’s openness to the process of getting better. And, what of the clinic staff? Does the office offer a pleasant, comfortable and practical work space, or does everyone bolt out into open air and sunshine at the end of the day? 

Numerous studies have been published on this topic – some come from actual university-based health-care design research units. One, in particular, caught my eye. In 2004, the British Journal of General Practice published a paper by Jacques Mizan who points out that the “built environment” of a clinic can contain elements that are stressors, can lack space for family support, can make the patient feel like he/she has no control over what happens to them, and can reinforce the perceived “power imbalance” between the doctor and the patient.  In short, poor practice design brings about negative physical and behavioural consequences in patients. The term for the effects that design can have on people is “architectural determinism.” In his article, Mizan gives health-care practice design and decorating tips that have been shown to foster patient confidence and satisfaction, more equitable interactions and, ultimately, better clinical outcomes. Mizan also points out the benefits of a well-designed practice to the people who have to work there, day after day.

In this, our Wellness and Nutrition issue, we will address patient-centred clinic design by profiling a chiropractic practice environment that has been carefully created to be a therapeutic expression of mindful care, overall wellness and community responsibility.  While we’re at it, we discuss owning the real estate for your chiropractic practice. From there, we move on to a variety of topics, including a look at Omega-3 EFAs for pain relief, a review of spinal decompression that emphasizes the need for a thorough consultation and exam aimed at selecting and deselecting patients for various therapies, a discussion of how chiropractic can impact the patient safety dialogue currently stirring in health care, and much more.

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Bien à vous,

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