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Evidence-based design: medical and design researcher collaboration
  1. Mardelle McCuskey Shepley1,
  2. Angela Watson2
  1. 1Department of Architecture, Center for Health Systems and Design, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA
  2. 2Shepley Bulfinch Architects, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Mardelle McCuskey Shepley
    Department of Architecture, Center for Health Systems and Design, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX77843-3137, USA; mardelle{at}

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Healthcare facilities are the most complex and mutable of all building types, and enhanced collaboration between medical professionals and designers in facility research is needed. Architects have long been aware of this need and sought information from medical staff. Recently, they have supplemented this information by utilising data from research addressing the impact of the physical environment. The number of studies in this new field, however, is limited due in part to the lack of champions working within healthcare environments to facilitate and participate in the activities of design researchers.

The process of using research in the design of environments has been labelled ‘evidence-based design’ (EBD), a term that came into use in the 1990s inspired by ‘evidence-based medicine’. EBD seeks to inform design decisions in order to make the resulting building maximally appropriate for the occupants. While several healthcare organisations have recognised the importance of using research in the design process, few entities have formally committed staff to gather data on this topic. As a result, designers are expanding their practices to incorporate EBD techniques without the benefit of medical staff to enhance the quality of the process. So strong is the belief that evidence is critical to good design, an organisation has generated an examination process (Evidence-based Design Accreditation and Certification) to credential designers and other professionals.

Regarding healthcare in particular, environmental psychologists now confirm what medical professionals have always known—the physical environment has an impact on staff, patient and family outcomes. Of the array of issues …

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  • Competing interests None.

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