2009 Survey of Design Research in Healthcare Settings: The use and impact of evidence-based design

August 1, 2009
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Working with Herman Miller as a corporate partner, The Center for Health Design has completed the first Survey of Design Research in Healthcare Settings. With more than 600 respondents to the online survey, the results provide insight into questions surrounding the use of research in healthcare design and will set a benchmark for future analysis of industry trends.

While the field of evidence-based design (EBD) field has grown significantly over the last few years, we do not know how much of this knowledge is being translated into the design of new healthcare facilities: How many healthcare projects use an EBD process? Are those planning and designing these facilities coming up with innovative design solutions to address key safety and quality issues in healthcare settings? Are they measuring the impacts of these changes? Is EBD really making a difference?

Those responding to the survey included: architects, interior designers, researchers, hospital-facility-related staff, healthcare consultants, medical planners, hospital administration, and other categories such as vendor/product sales rep, business development/ marketing, construction managers, postgraduate degree candidate (PhD, Masters), and clinicians.


According to a recent construction survey, EBD gained support in 2008, although a large number of hospitals are still not using EBD features (HFM/ASHE 2009 Construction Survey). The same survey indicated that 22% were applying EBD design concepts in all construction projects and 40% for some projects.

In this survey focusing specifically on the use of design research in healthcare, nearly all of those surveyed were aware of design research to indicate improved healthcare-related outcomes. More than 80% of respondents stated they “sometimes” or “regularly” used design research to make their decisions.

Respondents were also asked about the awareness of the term “evidence-based design.” Consistent with the results for awareness of design research, a high percentage of respondents indicated regular use of EBD. However, fewer respondents indicated using EBD “sometimes,” while more indicated hearing about EBD but “not trying to use it yet.”

Information gathering

Respondents were asked about sources used to gather information about design strategies. Some sources “always” used include (figure 1):

Gathering healthcare design strategies

  • internet searches for materials or other projects (43.8%);

  • past projects (38.8%);

  • articles in the mainstream media: news, industry publications (31.7%);

  • site visits to other facilities (29.3%);

  • published research (29%); and

  • peer opinions (27.9%).

Respondents were also asked about resources used most often for information about healthcare design. The top resources “always” used include:

  • The Guidelines for the Design and Construction of Healthcare Facilities (50.7%);

  • HEALTHCARE DESIGN magazine (43.4%);

  • HEALTHCARE DESIGN Conference (24.5%);

  • Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) Journal (18.1%); and

  • CDC Guidelines for Infection Control (17.0%).

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