Deliberate environmental design to put patients in a more receptive state for treatment

Oral health continuously faces the problem of not being seen as a priority in South African communities. Individual motivation to see an oral health professional mostly occurs only when a problem arises (feeling of pain). Seeking dental healthcare at this late stage results in experiences that are more painful than they would be otherwise. To improve the experience of individuals, the environment has proven influential in travel, hotels, restaurants, banks, retailers and hospitals (Bitner 1992). Stemming from the marketing industry, Servicescape is a framework that describes the role the environment can have on influencing emotive and behavioural intentions of consumers (Bitner, 1992) (Mohd Amin, Mohd Wahid and Ismail, 2015). Similarly, healthcare Servicescape known as Healthscape focuses on improving facilities to compete with the rate of ‘growing patient consumerism’ (Lee, 2011).

Healthscape is used to improve patient-centred care as a market strategy. However, there is a need for South African practices as a general body to create a change in perception towards oral health, to re-establish the affiliations the societal majority of the country has to oral health. This study attempted to use the environment to place patients in a more receptive state for dental healthcare treatment. Findings were collected through interviews, ethnographic research, surveys and experiments, focusing on the cognitive, physiological and emotional responses of individuals. Results lead to the design of a dental health Servicescape guideline, outlining techniques in content, lighting, audio, activities and wayfinding that can be used to place patients in a pleasant passive state.