Post-Occupancy Evaluation of a Mental Healthcare Facility Based on Staff Perceptions of Design Innovations

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Abstract

Objectives:

This study was a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) to examine the effectiveness of three specific design innovations in a mental healthcare facility. In addition to collecting data about the impact of these specific designs, the study provides a model for the broader implementation of POE approaches in the mental healthcare context.

Background:

POEs in general healthcare settings have been shown to lead to better work environments and better outcomes for patients. Despite growing evidence of the value provided by POE studies, the industry has been somewhat slow to adopt their regular use, in part due to unfamiliarity with the POE process. This is particularly true in mental healthcare contexts, where POE studies remain virtually nonexistent.

Method:

In-depth interviews and a widely distributed, anonymous survey were used to collect hospital staff perceptions and feedback regarding the impact of specific design features.

Results:

The hospital staff were quite enthusiastic about two of the design innovations studied here (a new wayfinding strategy and the use of vibrant colors in specific areas of the facility). The third innovation, open-style communication centers, elicited more mixed evaluations. The results include extensive hypothesis testing about the effects of each innovation as well as narrative discussions of their pros and cons.

Conclusions:

The study generated new knowledge about three specific mental healthcare design innovations and provides a model for the practical implementation of a POE approach in mental healthcare contexts. The results are particularly relevant for designers who are considering innovative strategies in future mental healthcare facilities.

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