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HERD. 2012 Fall;6(1):104-16.

The environment of inpatient healthcare delivery and its influence on the outcome of care.

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Corresponding Author: Dr. Margaret O'Connor, Monash University, PO Box 527 Frankston, 3199 Victoria AUSTRALIA (



This paper addresses issues arising in the literature regarding the environmental design of inpatient healthcare settings and their impact on care.


Environmental design in healthcare settings is an important feature of the holistic delivery of healthcare. The environmental influence of the delivery of care is manifested by such things as lighting, proximity to bedside, technology, family involvement, and space. The need to respond rapidly in places such as emergency and intensive care can override space needs for family support. In some settings with aging buildings, the available space is no longer appropriate to the needs-for example, the need for privacy in emergency departments. Many aspects of care have changed over the last three decades and the environment of care appears not to have been adapted to contemporary healthcare requirements nor involved consumers in ascertaining environmental requirements. The issues found in the literature are addressed under five themes: the design of physical space, family needs, privacy considerations, the impact of technology, and patient safety.


There is a need for greater input into the design of healthcare spaces from those who use them, to incorporate dignified and expedient care delivery in the care of the person and to meet the needs of family.Preferred Citation: O'Connor, M., O'Brien, A., Bloomer, M., Morphett, J., Peters, L., Hall, H., … Munro, I. (2012). The environment of inpatient healthcare delivery and its influence on the outcome of care. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 6(1), 105-117.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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