Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Architecture and Health

Committee Chair/Advisor

Battisto, Dina

Committee Member

Battisto , Dian

Committee Member

Verderber , Stephen

Committee Member

Willoughby , Deborah


Nurses are the primary care givers for patients admitted to hospitals overnight and the design of the physical environment impacts the operational effectiveness of care delivery. Many nursing tasks are repeated across multiple patients (such as documentation, administering medications, assessing patients, etc) and there are strict protocols and procedures for how to administer these tasks to ensure the delivery of high quality care. A nursing model is often chosen by a nurse administrator who oversees its implementation in an effort to provide effective care delivery to patients admitted on a nursing unit in a hospital. Throughout the unit there are various nurse work areas strategically placed to help support the successful completion of nursing tasks. These work areas provide nurses with the necessary resources (such as access to patient medical information; access to medications, supplies and equipment; and access to horizontal surfaces to work on or set up supplies) to care for ill patients. These work areas also serve as the primary locations to collaborate with other staff to coordinate care delivery for patients. The design of these work areas varies considerably across units, yet it is unknown if certain approaches or design attributes are more or less effective for supporting nursing tasks. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate relationships between the design of key nursing work areas and operational effectiveness in general medical/surgical patient care units. The primary nurse work areas investigated in this study include the central nurse station, fixed subwork areas, and the support work areas for medication dispensing and nursing administration. These nurse work areas will be investigated to determine the spatial considerations of different work areas for nurses (including size, types of activities performed, number and type of people using the work place), the technical requirements (such as lighting, electrical utility, technological, etc) and the behavioral requirements (visibility, acoustical privacy, collaboration, acceptable travel distances, etc). In addition to studying the nursing work areas specifically, the context of the work areas will also be studied to ascertain necessary functional relationships to improve operational effectiveness within the areas and adjacencies.
Utilizing a case study research approach, multiple data collection methods will be employed to study operational effectiveness of nursing care delivery in relation to design attributes of nursing work areas. Through a qualitative investigation, existing nurse work areas (central nurse station, sub-nurse work stations, and support work areas including medication dispensing and administration areas and supply rooms) will be studied on three different nursing units with varying design. In addition to studying work areas in existing nursing units, nursing personnel will be asked questions about their nursing unit as well as to sort and rank their preferences for different approaches to these key work areas. The intent is to connect physical design options to perceived improvements in operational effectiveness of nursing tasks performed at these locations.

Included in

Architecture Commons



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