The long term goal of this application is to reduce musculoskeletal injuries and discomfort experienced by healthcare workers in institutional settings. In many workplaces the awkward postures and motions exhibited by workers, and the effort required to complete work-related tasks bear a direct relationship to the layout and organization of the workspace. This is particularly true for hospital workers administering care in patient rooms. Given that we are currently undergoing an unprecedented boom in healthcare facility construction (Gamble, 2011;Nelson et al., 2005;Terry, 2011);we are presented with a unique opportunity to address many of the room design parameters that create physical ergonomics issues for workers who provide direct patient care and other members of the hospital staff. However, three emerging trends in healthcare present additional challenges to designers of hospital patient rooms. First, there is the move toward acuity-adaptable rooms which accommodate patients through varied levels of care during their hospital stays. Second, there is a trend to bring hospital services to the patient rather than transporting patients to the services. Together these trends indicate that the patient room as a work environment needs to accommodate more individuals performing more tasks than ever before. Third, populations are getting larger, necessitating larger beds and larger furnishing for visitors. The primary goal of this application is to address the needs of the many different stakeholder groups working in patient rooms through a systems approach, largely driven by a participatory design process that will draw upon the expertise of a diverse, multi-disciplinary team of researchers and practitioners. Specifically, the aims of this application are to: (1) Identify, observe, and analyze work tasks that, due to patient room design parameters, ergonomically challenge the identified stakeholders (users);(2) Obtain consensus on the ergonomic challenges associated with patient room design and elicit stakeholder specific recommendations regarding ergonomic aspects of patient room design;(3) Identify patient room design parameters that impact the needs of patients and their visitors and family members, and elicit alterations in patient room design parameters that best support those needs;(4) Resolve conflicts between stakeholder groups with regard to patient room design parameters, thereby, allowing for a clear set of design parameter recommendations for patient rooms. In sum, our process will yield a set of guidelines that will be useable and accessible to designers, planners, hospital administrators, and others interested in patient room design and lay the groundwork for future evidence-based research related to healthcare facility design.

Public Health Relevance

This project addresses the significant occupational exposure of hospital healthcare workers to risk factors associated with the development of work- related musculoskeletal disorders while working in patient rooms. The problem is of even greater significance to public health given a shortage of skilled healthcare workers, and an increasing demand for healthcare services, thus making the health status of the healthcare workers a critical factor in the availability and quality of healthcare services. Moreover, the trends toward providing more in-room patient services, the move towards acuity adaptable patient rooms, and the increasing size of American patients all point to the need to take a fresh look at patient room design from an ergonomic perspective. This application, by focusing on patient room ergonomic design issues, seeks to inform hospital designers so that the they can support the room design needs of all healthcare workers as new healthcare facilities are constructed or old facilities refurbished.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
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Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
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Karr, Joan
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Ohio State University
Biomed Engr/Col Engr/Engr Sta
United States
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