Key Spatial Factors Influencing the Perceived Privacy in Nursing Units: An Exploration Study With Eight Nursing Units in Hong Kong

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Abstract

Aim:

This study examined how the spatial characteristics of patient beds, which are influenced by patient room design and nursing unit configuration, affect patients’ perceptions about privacy.

Background:

In the hospital setting, most patients expect a certain degree of privacy but also understand that their caregivers need appropriate access to them in order to provide high-quality care. Even veteran healthcare designers may struggle to create just the right balance between privacy and accessibility.

Methods:

A paper-based survey was conducted with 159 participants in Hong Kong—72 (45.3%) participants had been hospitalized and 87 (54.7%) participants had not—to document their selection of high-privacy beds, given simplified plans of eight nursing units. Two types of information, comprised of six variables, were examined for each bed. These include (1) room-level variables, specifically the number of beds per room and area per bed and (2) relational variables, including walking distance, directional change, integration, and control.

Results:

The results demonstrate that when asked to identify high-privacy beds, participants selected beds in patient rooms with fewer beds per room, a larger area per bed, and a longer walking distance to the care team workstation. Interestingly, the participants having been hospitalized also chose beds with a visual connection to the care team workstation as being high in privacy.

Conclusions:

The participants with hospitalization experience may be willing to accept a bed with reduced visual privacy, perhaps out of a concern for safety.

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