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Could increased sunlight reduce hospital stay time for those experiencing depression?

Posted on: July 5, 2017   by  Vitamin D Council

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A recent study published by Neurophsycobiology found that hospital-bound patients staying in southeast-facing rooms were discharged earlier than those staying in northwest-facing rooms.

Researchers included 29 patients with depression over a year from the Psychiatric Center Copenhagen in Denmark. Based on room availability, 11 patients were placed in rooms facing southeast and the remaining 18 were assigned rooms facing northwest. Due to the daily angle of the sun, southeast-facing rooms were more brightly lit than the northwest-facing rooms. They measured light intensity and illuminance in the patients’ rooms and administered the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale to determine severity of depression in those included in the study. Higher scores on this test indicated increased severity of depression. Additionally, vitamin D levels were measured during hospital admittance.

This is what the researchers found:

  • The average length of hospital stay in patients in southeast-facing rooms was 29.2 days, while patients in northwest-facing rooms stayed an average of 58.8 days (p=0.01).
  • Depression improvements were greater for those staying in southeast rooms – 52.2% reduction for those in southeast-facing rooms and 42.2% reduction for those in northwest-facing rooms; however, this finding was not statistically significant (p=0.42).
  • Depression improvement was reached in a shorter time span in the southeast group compared to the northwest group, though this was not statistically significant (p=0.39).

The researchers concluded,

“The main results were that southeast-facing rooms received far more daylight than northwest-facing rooms, and that the length of stay was significantly shorter in the southeast rooms.”

Source

Krzysztof, G. et al. Depressed Patients Hospitalized in Southeast-Facing Rooms Are Discharged Earlier than Patients in Northwest-Facing Rooms. Neuropsychobiology, 2017.

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