New Environmental Design Research Association Publication Examines Tools for Healthcare Environments Research and Practice

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Publication is a Result of 2012 Research Colloquium

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The metrics and methods shared through this document are an important step in building a toolkit for healthcare design research and provide a resource for future researchers.

A growing body of research has shown that the design of the healthcare built environment contributes to a safe and healing environment for patients and a nurturing, positive environment for staff, as well as helping achieve organizational and business objectives. An evidence-based design process involves using the best available research to inform design decisions and then conducting research to evaluate the effectiveness of design interventions. While this field has been growing over the last decade, current challenges to growth and development include the lack of standard metrics and measurement tools for measuring environmental as well as outcome variables.

The Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) and HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering, and planning firm, unveiled a new compendium of research papers resulting from the 2012 research colloquium held during EDRA’s 43rd Annual International Conference. The purpose of this event was to bring together a community of researchers who have been involved in developing various tools to measure both environmental variables as well as outcomes. “Development of Tools for Healthcare Environments Research and Practice” is a collection of ten short essays that were published by session contributors examining tools and metrics developed in healthcare environments as well as other types of settings that may be relevant in healthcare environments research.

The 2012 research colloquium was the brainchild of Anjali Joseph, Ph.D., EDAC, Vice President/Director of Research at the Center for Health Design, in keeping with the Center’s ongoing initiative on tool development to bring research into practice. Along with co-author Upali Nanda, and the support of the REDCenter at American Art Resources, Joseph solicited participation from healthcare’s top researchers, organized the session, catalogued the results, and edited the publication.

“Many studies that examine the impact of the built environment on outcomes often do not define the environmental variable effectively. As a result, the findings from such studies are difficult to implement in practice and such studies are also difficult to replicate,” said compendium co-editor Upali Nanda, Ph.D., Vice President of Research at HKS, Inc. “The tools shared as part of this session make a strong contribution to the field by enabling researchers and practitioners to measure the physical environment effectively.”

The research colloquium included the following: a framework and glossary of healthcare environments terms and measures developed by the Center for Health Design; presentations by researchers on existing tools, or tools under development, that could be relevant to research on healthcare environments; discussion on key considerations for development of reliable tools and metrics for Evidence-Based Design research; discussion on how tools that are developed could be made available to the industry to advance the incorporation of research in practice, and how questions raised in practice could be the impetus of academic endeavors in developing tools and metrics.

“The metrics and methods shared through this document are an important step in building a toolkit for healthcare design research and provide a resource for future researchers,” said Erin Peavey, Associate AIA, LEED AP+BD+C, EDAC, Researcher + Medical Planner at HOK. “HOK is excited to support this publication as a way to contribute to the field of design research and to create better healthcare for all.”

Authors of the “Development of Tools for Healthcare Environments Research and Practice” compendium are co-editors Nanda and Joseph; Xiaobo Quan, Ph.D. EDAC, Center for Health Design; Robyn Bajema, RED Center at American Art Resources; Saif Haq, Ph.D., College of Architecture, Texas Tech University; Hui Cai, Ph.D., RTKL Associates; Craig Zimring, Ph.D., College of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology; Derrek Clarke, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C, HOK; Erin Peavey, Associate AIA, MArch, LEED® AP+BD+C, EDAC, HOK; Nicholas Watkins, Ph.D., BBH Design; Zhe Wang, Ph.D., RA, EDAC, LEED® AP BD+C, Henan University of Technology and International Green; Debajyoti Pati, Ph.D., FIIA, IDEC, LEED® AP, Texas Tech University; William D. Kearns, Ph.D., Dept. of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, University of South Florida; James L. Fozard, Ph.D., School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida; Habib Chaudhury, Ph.D., Simon Fraser University; Heather Cooke, Ph.D(c)., University of Victoria; Mahbub Rashid, Ph.D., RA, School of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Kansas; Diane K. Boyle, Ph.D., RN, School of Nursing, University of Kansas; and Michael Crosser, M.D., School of Medicine, University of Kansas.

To download a copy of “Development of Tools for Healthcare Environments Research and Practice,” visit


About EDRA:
The Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) exists to advance and disseminate environmental design research, thereby improving understanding of the inter-relationships of people with their built and natural surroundings toward creation and curation of environments responsive to human needs. Our publications are just one of the ways we work to achieve our mission, and we are grateful of HOK’s support of this compendium. For more information on EDRA’s programs and services, visit

About HOK:
HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. HOK’s mission is to deliver exceptional design ideas and solutions for our clients through the creative blending of human need, environmental stewardship, value creation, science and art. Our design solutions result from a collaborative process that encourages multidisciplinary professional teams to research alternatives, share knowledge and imagine new ways to solve the challenges of the built environment. For more information, visit

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