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Photos of Home, Nature May Help Relax NH Residents in Pain

July 01, 2020

Visually appealing digital photos may help older adults in nursing homes cope with pain, suggests a study published online in the journal European Geriatric Medicine.

“The participants stated that photographs of family members, homes, and natural scenery made them feel relaxed and happy, and reminded them of past happy times,” reported researchers from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Shatin Hospital in Hong Kong.

The descriptive observational study included 165 older adults recruited from nursing homes. The average age of participants was 85. Pain was more common, and more intense, among women than men in the study, although pain interference was not significantly different between men and women. 

Researchers designed a visually appealing pain management program with the experiences of nursing home residents in mind, they explained. In addition to finding that pictures of family, home, and nature relaxed and increased happiness among residents, the study found that residents preferred to view those images on digital devices such as iPads and iPhones over hard copy photos.  

The findings will help inform the development of a future pain management program, researchers indicated. 

“Pleasant pictures can help to reduce stress, promote positive feelings, and even facilitate recovery from diseases,” they wrote. “Visual stimulation is an approach of distraction that can effectively reduce pain thresholds and increase pain tolerances.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Tse MMY, Ng SSM, Bai X, et al. An exploration of the use of visually appealing contexts in a pain management program [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jun 20]. Eur Geriatr Med. 2020;10.1007/s41999-020-00339-6. doi:10.1007/s41999-020-00339-6

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