Journal article Open Access

Human stress responses in office-like environments with wood furniture

Michael David Burnard; Andreja Kutnar

Stress is a major public health concern and work stress is a contributor to both acute and chronic stress. Moreover, most people spend the majority of their time indoors. It follows that the design of office spaces and other interior environments should consider the health impacts of individuals in terms of psychophysiological responses to stress. In this way, buildings can act as an environmental intervention to compliment social and therapeutic interventions to stress. In this study, human stress responses were compared in experimental office settings with and without wood. The hypothesis was that the office setting with wood furniture would reduce stress responses and improve stress recovery as indicated by salivary cortisol concentration. The within-subjects experiment revealed that overall stress levels were lower in the office-like environment with oak wood than the control room, but there was no detectable difference in stress levels between the office-like environment with walnut wood and the control room. Stress recovery was not found to differ between either environment, possibly because duration of the experiment was too short or that not enough samples were taken during the recovery period.

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