Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Kristi Block

Second Advisor

Sally Vliem


The purpose of this undergraduate thesis is to explore the use of sensory rooms in the psychiatric inpatient care setting. Mental illness is a serious issue, affecting millions each year. In 2018 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that one in five, or 19.6% of U.S. adults experienced some form of mental illness. Inpatient hospitalization is limited to those individuals posing a risk for serious harm to themselves or others. A census conducted by SAMHSA on April 30th, 2018, indicated 129,115 patients in the U.S. were receiving mental health care treatment in the inpatient setting. An abundance of literature in the field of neuroscience has indicated adults with mental illness can experience impaired social cognition, task attention, and self-regulation as a result of atypical sensory processing. Interventions targeting sensory processing skills, like sensory rooms, may lead to improved cognitive gains and occupational performance. Sensory rooms are most commonly used in the inpatient and residential settings and can be defined as therapeutic spaces that utilize a variety of tools to stimulate the senses. Twenty-three studies retrieved from the Nursing & Allied Health Database were represented in a review of the literature. Most studies reviewed were completed in the U.S. and Australia. Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Denmark also provided Insight. While the majority of these studies focused on adult populations, child and adolescent, geriatric, and mixed population studies have also been included. Findings indicated the use of sensory rooms in the inpatient psychiatric care setting may lead to decreased practices of restraint and seclusion, increased management of psychiatric symptoms, and feelings of support for the therapy among patients and providers alike. It is recommended that further research be conducted to promote evidence-based-practice regarding the use of sensory rooms. Nursing professionals play an important role in promoting the use of sensory rooms not only in the inpatient setting, but also in the home setting for any and all individuals who seek to benefit.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access