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Report: More behavioral health facility design research needed

January 14, 2014
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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Center for Health Design report says additional research may drive new design standards

The Center for Health Design (Concord, CA) has released a new report, “Design Research and Behavioral Health Facilities” that calls for additional research into the role of the physical environment in the potentially vast array of behavioral health facilities across the country.

The report, now available in the The Center for Health Design's Knowledge Repository, was authored by Mardelle Shepley and Samira Pasha, who received help from the CHD Research Coalition’s Behavioral Health Facilities Working Group. The report notes that research on healthcare facilities has increased over the last 20 years; however, studies addressing the design of behavioral health environments are few. The absence of research in this area of specialization is surprising, as legal precedents have spoken to the need for quality environments for many years.

“One of the challenging issues in conducting behavioral health research is the wide variety of potential settings”, stated report co-author Mardelle Shepley, D.Arch, FAIA, Director of the Center for Health Systems & Design at Texas A&M University. “Design decisions about the room layout, flooring, lighting, finishes, and furniture, impact a range of healthcare outcomes for patients such as patient satisfaction, hospital acquired infections, patient falls and medical errors. “With reimbursement tied increasingly to these hospital-acquired conditions and patient satisfaction, hospital owners and administrators are paying more and more attention to the factors that impact these outcomes, including the design of the built environment and the design of patient rooms.”