How does the staff experience getting circadian lighting, what effects can be expected, and what is needed to create value? These are the questions that a new PhD study focuses on, and the initial findings have now been published.
There is a growing interest in improving the physical environment in the healthcare sector through investments in new technologies. Circadian lighting is one of these technologies that is increasingly prioritized in new construction projects. Research has shown that circadian lighting has a positive effect on both patients and staff's well-being and health.
A new PhD study is taking the next step and exploring the significance of implementation and the staff's experience in creating success with circadian lighting. The project includes both nursing homes and hospitals, including the new Neuro Center at Rigshospitalet. The circadian lighting solution being investigated in the project has been developed by the Danish company Chromaviso and includes both the lighting system itself and its implementation.
The initial findings
The initial findings have just been published at the prestigious ACM International Conference on Information Technology for Social Good (GoodIT) in a special edition for 2021. These findings focus on the first research site of the study, Ålholmhjemmet, a nursing home in Hillerød Municipality.
According to Kathrine Schledermann, the responsible person for the PhD project, the study reveals that the staff is overwhelmingly delighted with circadian lighting and describes it as natural, warm, soft, and comfortable to work in. She also emphasizes that flexibility is a crucial factor in the success of circadian lighting.
— The study shows that it is essential for the staff to have the ability to adjust the circadian lighting to support different workflows and needs in a department. When the lighting does so, the staff is highly willing to actively use it in their daily care routines, which ultimately benefits the residents, she explains.
In relation to its effects on the residents, one significant finding emerged from the study, namely the prevalent issue of nighttime restlessness.
According to Kathrine Schledermann, the night staff at Ålholmhjemmet reported a positive reduction in the number of residents' nighttime wanderings. This can be attributed to factors such as improved sleep patterns and the distinct signalling of circadian lighting at night, where the light is amber-coloured, explains Schledermann.
The light emitted during the night in circadian lighting is free of blue wavelengths, known as biological darkness, as the brain perceives it as nighttime. Therefore, the light does not disturb the circadian rhythm and sleep patterns.
The study is attracting international attention
The scientific article describing the results has received significant recognition due to the innovative method mix employed in the study. It was conducted in real-life settings, taking into account the complexities of everyday life in nursing homes and hospitals. The study incorporates new methods, such as card sorting, derived from applied and action research, alongside traditional questionnaires and observations.
—In order for new technology to have the desired effect, it is crucial that we implement it based on the users' everyday lives. Circadian lighting brings about a transformation, and the staff must be aware of its significance and be motivated to embrace it. This was evident in the study conducted at Ålholmhjemmet, where the staff demonstrated a deep understanding of the use and importance of light, says Kathrine Schledermann.
One of the key findings highlighted by Kathrine Schledermann in the study emphasizes the significance of flexibility, education on circadian lighting, and ongoing follow-up.
—Circadian lighting is a transformative technology that not only impacts health and well-being but also influences workflow and fosters new habits. Implementing circadian lighting is a learning process that requires continuous adjustments based on new experiences and needs. By incorporating this dimension into the implementation, the greatest value can be achieved, as explained by the researcher.
In the coming years, several more study results will be unveiled, including findings from Rigshospitalet. Furthermore, the knowledge gained from the project will continuously be integrated into Chromaviso's work and implementation of circadian lighting.
Methods used at Ålholmhjemmet
- Questionnaire about light: A total of 42 out of 51 employees responded to the survey.
- Interviews: With 10 Staff Members
- Card sorting: A total of 9 rounds of card sorting were conducted.
- Observations: A total of 5 participant observations were conducted.
Findings at Ålholmhjemmet
Staff's experience with circadian lighting:
- High satisfaction with circadian lighting.
- The staff reports that they find it easy to utilize the circadian lighting solution.
- The staff described the working environment as comfortable, using words like natural, warm, and bright.
- The circadian lighting is seamlessly integrated into the daily work routine.
- The staff recognizes the value of having circadian lighting for both themselves and the residents.
- It is crucial for the staff to have the ability to adjust the lighting according to different work situations.
- Younger employees may perceive slightly more value in having circadian lighting than older employees.
Night work and nocturnal wanderings:
- Circadian lighting has positively impacted the workload of night staff, reducing their burden and enhancing their work experience.
- The staff has observed a decrease in nighttime wandering among the residents due to the presence of light during the night.
- These findings have also been observed in other research studies.
- Business- PhD study from 2019-2023 in collaboration between Chromaviso, Aalborg University, and Kathrine M. Schledermann, Business PhD student, MSc.
- Funded by the Innovation Fund.
- The PhD project was initiated by Aalborg University in collaboration with the lighting company Chromaviso, with the support of the Innovation Fund.
- The publication showcasing the results from Ålholmhjemmet is titled "Danish Nursing Home Staff's Perception of Visual Comfort and the Benefits of a Circadian Lighting System" in Good IT journal (2021).
Overview of the PhD Project
A three-year business PhD project with the aim of:
- Investigate obstacles and challenges associated with the implementation of circadian lighting.
- Develop a research-based method for implementing circadian lighting.
- Explore the impact of circadian lighting on staff in relation to job satisfaction, workflow, and sick leave.