The role of architectural design for rheumatic patients’ wellbeing: the point of view of Environmental Psychology
Rheumatic diseases (RD) are among the most frequent disorders in the population and the major causes of chronic pain and disability. The resulting consequences are catastrophic, leading to a significant socio-economic burden, which includes significant reductions in quality of life (QoL) and limitations in regular work and daily activities of patients. In spite of this, rheumatic diseases are often misunderstood or diagnosed late, probably due to their characteristics of silent diseases, sometimes unrecognizable to unaffected or unskilled people. Actually, it is surprising that, despite their consequences on QoL and on individual impact, rheumatic diseases are underestimated by the public opinion, which is probably more attracted by other major diseases causing death. This silent perception can even be seen in some among the most recent psycho-social approaches to population needs in the fields of Health Psychology and Environmental Psychology. The latter, also known as Architectural Psychology, is a branch of Psychology that analyses the effects of the built environment on humans, including those affected by diseases. Paradoxically, in many cases, some components of the environments created to protect individuals and/or the population may represent barriers and subsequently causes of disability and suffering in patients with rheumatic diseases. In order to increase awareness about this particular aspect of social life, HEMOVE Onlus, a non-profit association, has promoted the creation of a multidisciplinary Task Group, which included mainly rheumatologists, psychologists and architects, with the aim of applying also for the benefit of rheumatic patients the most modern technical skills available in the context of Environmental Psychology, including in particular design and information technology.
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