Research at The Center for Health Design: Looking Ahead

August 20, 2012
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Anjali Joseph, PhD, EDAC
Anjali Joseph, PhD, EDAC

This is an exciting time to be a researcher at The Center for Health Design (CHD). As research becomes increasingly incorporated into the practice of healthcare design, CHD is playing an active role to provide the bridge between research and practice. What is particularly exciting is that evidence-based design (EBD) provides the process and approach for making research come alive and become useful for practitioners.

Research underpins much of CHD’s work and helps shape educational offerings we provide, such as the EDAC program, conferences, and advocacy efforts for informed changes to facility guidelines. Our goal with research projects is to develop knowledge and resources that support and strengthen the growing field of evidence-based design.

As such, we aim to bridge the gap between research and design through resources that facilitate the translation and application of research knowledge into design. CHD also develops partnerships with national organizations to conduct research projects that will likely have the maximum impact on the healthcare design industry.

Those of you who regularly read this column may have a sense of the type of research projects that CHD undertakes and supports. These projects fall into three main categories.


Translating research
CHD pulls together information from peer-reviewed articles and industry best practices to create papers and presentations on topics of high interest for the healthcare design community.

In the past, this work has been supported by grants from national organizations such as The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions, the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), as well as industry sponsors.

CHD’s website is being developed as the go-to place for all research related to the design of healthcare environments. Several years ago, CHD began the development of RIPPLE, an open-source database built on information used by Kaiser Permanente to develop its building standards. This was updated with data on environmental safety gathered during a project funded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The site is currently under further development with support funding from the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health (AIA/AAH), CHCF, and The Kresge Foundation. The upgraded database will provide access to the most current research in healthcare design and enable benchmarking between facilities.

Users will be able to better understand design strategies implemented by healthcare organizations and search the healthcare outcomes related to design. The case studies and repository of research abstracts included will support healthcare design teams using an EBD process in their facility design projects.


Promoting and conducting research
One of the primary ways CHD promotes research that supports the development of the EBD field is through the Pebble Project. This research initiative engages forward-thinking healthcare organizations to utilize an EBD process during their building projects, conduct research to evaluate their designs, and share their findings with the healthcare design community.

CHD supports Pebble Project partners in accessing evidence, defining research objectives, developing collaborations with researchers, and disseminating their findings. Pebble Project partners are also engaged as participants in multisite grant-funded research projects. CHD’s September column will feature additional details about the Pebble Project.

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