Designing for adolescents requires a specialized knowledge base due to their physical, mental, and emotional variances from both children and adults. However, the ambiguity of the adolescent phase between childhood and adulthood creates a challenge to effectively design spaces tailored to their needs. Additionally, knowledge regarding the needs of adolescents associated with the built environment has been scarce; however, researchers have recently begun to examine the relationship between adolescents and the physical environment within the healthcare setting.

"Adolescent Satisfaction with Drug/Alcohol Treatment Facilities: Design Implications" (Potthoff, 1995) found that adolescents felt the institutional character and overall lack of comfort were a distraction to treatment. The author suggested improvement such as providing opportunity for personalization, natural light, wide corridors, comfortable seating, and recreational activity areas (1995).

Alison Hutton's studies, "The Private Adolescent: Privacy Needs of Adolescents in Hospitals" (2002) and "Consumer Perspectives in Adolescent Ward Design" (2005), determined that adult hospital ward rules and norms were restrictive to the needs of adolescents and that adult and pediatric wards do not support their social and emotional needs. Specifically, adolescents felt a loss of control and independence, loss of status with peers and peer interaction, and inadequate privacy.

"Design Issues in Hospitals: The Adolescent Client" (2006) by Blumberg and Devlin targeted the preferences of adolescents and confirmed privacy is essential, cheerful decor is preferred, access and control of communication is desirable, additional amenities (such as game rooms) would be welcome, and a 24-hour visiting policy was comforting.

Evaluation of all articles produced overlapping deficiencies adolescents face in the healthcare setting which can be improved through design decisions: adequate privacy, opportunity for social interaction, individual control, and independence.

For such a dynamic patient, expanding knowledge of adolescent needs is necessary. To be a part of that necessary research click here for a quick survey created by an Interior Design Master's Candidate gathering data on current trends in designing for adolescents within the healthcare environment. A few minutes of sharing your experience and insight will add to the body of knowledge, further our profession and lead to improved patient outcomes.

Works cited:

Blumberg, R. & Devlin, Ann S. (2006). "Design Issues in Hospitals: The Adolescent Client". Environment and Behavior, 38, 293-317.

Hutton, Alison. (2005). "Consumer Perspectives in Adolescent Ward Design". Journal of Clinical Nursing, 14, 537-545.

Hutton, Alison. (2002). "The Private Adolescent: Privacy Needs of Adolescents in Hospitals". Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 17, 67-72

Potthoff, J. (1995). "Adolescent Satisfaction with Drug/Alcohol Treatment Facilities: Design implications". Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 41, 62-73.