The effect of window rooms on critically ill patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage admitted to intensive care

Hannah Wunsch, Hayley Gershengorn, Stephan A. Mayer, Jan Claassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Introduction: Clinicians and specialty societies often emphasize the potential importance of natural light for quality care of critically ill patients, but few studies have examined patient outcomes associated with exposure to natural light. We hypothesized that receiving care in an intensive care unit (ICU) room with a window might improve outcomes for critically ill patients with acute brain injury.Methods: This was a secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study. Seven ICU rooms had windows, and five ICU rooms did not. Admission to a room was based solely on availability.We analyzed data from 789 patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) admitted to the neurological ICU at our hospital from August 1997 to April 2006. Patient information was recorded prospectively at the time of admission, and patients were followed up to 1 year to assess mortality and functional status, stratified by whether care was received in an ICU room with a window.Results: Of 789 SAH patients, 455 (57.7%) received care in a window room and 334 (42.3%) received care in a nonwindow room. The two groups were balanced with regard to all patient and clinical characteristics. There was no statistical difference in modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score at hospital discharge, 3 months or 1 year (44.8% with mRS scores of 0 to 3 with window rooms at hospital discharge versus 47.2% with the same scores in nonwindow rooms at hospital discharge; adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.01, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.67 to 1.50, P = 0.98; 62.7% versus 63.8% at 3 months, aOR 0.85, 95% CI 0.58 to 1.26, P = 0.42; 73.6% versus 72.5% at 1 year, aOR 0.78, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.19, P = 0.25). There were also no differences in any secondary outcomes, including length of mechanical ventilation, time until the patient was able to follow commands in the ICU, need for percutaneous gastrostomy tube or tracheotomy, ICU and hospital length of stay, and hospital, 3-month and 1-year mortality.Conclusions: The presence of a window in an ICU room did not improve outcomes for critically ill patients with SAH admitted to the ICU. Further studies are needed to determine whether other groups of critically ill patients, particularly those without acute brain injury, derive benefit from natural light.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR81
JournalCritical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 3 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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