The Colour Real

19 Feb

Psychology of Colour in the Health Care Environment

By Sylvia O'Brien

Colour is an influence on everything. It seeps into our consciousness whether we know it or not. The psychology of colour is especially connected to the healing process. It is a known fact that our state of mind directly affects our physical body. Colour can accelerate healing, lift spirits and calm nerves. There are three groups of people that must be considered when 'colouring' a health care facility: the patient, the staff and the family members or friends. Strategic use of colour can create a supportive environment. With proper application it's possible to orchestrate the colour palette of each space to enhance the experience of all three of these groups. Here are some examples of colours that work for the health care environment.

(Editors note: each computer screen show colors differently, sometimes giving a very different hue from how they're intended by the writer. We've added the RGB codes for each color as it is important to be precise about the intended hue).


Sedation: Pink is a healing colour. Soft, natural pink tones calm and nurture our being. R: 220 G: 196 B: 193

Hush Pink


Grounding: a clean, warm neutral creates a good 'mediating' colour to support other

more direct colours in a carefully thought out environment. It's relationship to brown is a grounding influence. R: 205, G: 201, B: 191

White sand


Mentally stimulating & emotionally uplifting: in our subconscious a gentle yellow tone mimics the sun and uplifts spirits in general, but especially on grey days and long winters. R: 222, G: 203, B:155

Pale Sun

Balance & tranquility: The calm of blue & energy of yellow combine in green to deliver balance. A known stress-reliever, green creates a calm space and it's symbolic connection to nature facilitates the healing nature always does. R: 196, G: 200 B: 178

Delicate green


Stability & trust: blue symbolizes the sky and sea. It lowers the heart rate, therefore allowing the body quiet time to heal itself. It is favoured for it's calming qualities and a sense of safety it brings. R: 153 G:207 B: 209



Creating a good mix of subdued and stimulating hues is the balancing act that pays off many times over in the health care environment. The perfect mix of hues offers sensory variety, grounding and nurturing for patients and their loved ones, and improving staff retention. It's worth considering the psychological, physiological and emotional benefits to get a mix of the right colours. 


This article was contributed by Sylvia O'Brien, Creative Director of Colour Theory, a Toronto (Canada) based commercial colour & design firm.

Her motto is "Colour...get it right the first time ".

She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through

Photo credit: David Kleiser

Share on Myspace
Monthly newsletter

Color Objects encourages you to get a better eye and appreciation for colors and characters. To get a special selection of pics and info for you, we find designers and artists that make colorful work from all over the world. There's a lot of character in colors, and having a closer look will change your view of the world and people around you. So we share a host of pics and info from design, art, cultures and the natural world. All about colors.

Copyright Color Objects. All rights reserved.

Join Our Newsletter

Join our newsletter to get short monthly updates. You'll get a confirmation email, check your spam folder if you don't find it in your inbox.