Evidence Based Design: Emory Brain Health Center

Project Status: Completed

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Evidence based design, based on the concept of evidence based medicine, uses empirical research to validate design decisions. This semester, the evidence based design course taught by Craig Zimring, David Cowan, and Lisa Lim partners with the Emory Brain Health Center to research ways to improve various aspects of healthcare. Aspects include wayfinding, exam rooms, patient/physician communication, staff break areas, and team collaboration spaces.

The aspect I chose to work on is the staff break areas. So far, I’ve conducted a literature review to explore the opportunities and research that has been done on staff break and respite. As the semester progresses, I will complete a design strategy to suggest an improvement on staff break.

Here is a mind map of my literature review findings:

After reading many articles, I found the most opportunity and personal interest in social support for mental health nurses. I’m looking at exploring the ways mental health nurses can find respite through social support.

Read my literature review.

Research Plan and Proposal

Topic and Rationale

The Emory Brain Health Center has expressed a need and desire for restoring joy in practice through efficiently using the Sleep Center exam rooms as break rooms during the day, when sleep studies are not in session. In order to develop best practice design guidelines for this space pertaining to proximity, utilization, and socialization, our project will evaluate two pre-existing break room designs through a behavioral analysis. Using this information, our project will propose best practice design guidelines for establishing break rooms within the Sleep Center.

Procedure and Schedule

  1. Tour the Emory Brain Health Center and conduct interviews with staff, asking:
    • How long are your typical breaks?
    • How long are your typical shifts?
    • How many shifts you work in conjunction?
    • How often do you use your break room? (How many are there? Which do you use?)
    • How demanding is your work?
    • What do you find most restful when taking a break?
    • Do you prefer being alone or with colleagues during your break?
  2. Conduct a behavioral analysis for two pre-existing break rooms
    • Take images of and diagram the layout of two pre-existing break rooms
    • Analyze the distance of each break room from the patient exam rooms
    • Analyze the utilization and socialization of staff within each break room
  3. Propose best practice design guidelines pertaining to proximity, utilization, and socialization for establishing break rooms within the Sleep Center

View research proposal.

Design Strategy and Final Paper

We determined that compassion fatigue contributes to high burnout among healthcare workers.This study seeks to understand the role of break areas in contributing to decreasing compassion fatigue through respite by examining how different furniture arrangements affect socialization: both centripetal and centrifugal. This study centers around Emory Brain Health Center, focusing on understanding the current break room situation and providing design recommendations to improve the break rooms.

View final paper

View final presentation