Decoration or communication? A qualitative study of images displayed around the bedsides of hospitalised children

23 June 2014

It is common to find images displayed around the bedsides of sick children who are hospitalized for extended periods. We report a qualitative study of bedside displays that is based on photographs taken at the bedside, and interviews with eight female patients and seven mothers of young children in an Australian paediatric hospital. We found that a va- riety of people contributed to the displays in different ways, and that the displays served a wide variety of purposes. We offer a general explanation of hospital bedside displays based on our analysis of the data collected for this study, and we differentiate three related domains for further research into hospital bedside displays. We conclude that bedside displays accomplish much more than decoration alone, and should be understood as aesthetic interventions that serve a wide range of communicative purposes.