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Restorative Design Features For Hospital Staff Break Areas: A Multi-Method Study

April 2016
EBD Journal Club


Nejati, A., Shepley, M., Rodiek, S., & Lee, C. (2016). Restorative Design Features for Hospital Staff Break Areas: A Multi-Method Study. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 9(2), 16-35.


Objectives: The study investigated the main restorative components of staff break areas in healthcare facilities, by assessing usage patterns, verbal/visual preferences, and perceived restorative qualities of specific design features found in break areas for hospital staff.

Methods: A multi-method approach combined qualitative explorations (focused interviews and narrative survey questions) with quantitative measurements (discrete survey questions and a visual ranking of break-room spaces), and the results were compared and triangulated.

Results: It was found that staff break areas are more likely to be used if they are in close proximity to nurses’ work areas, if they have complete privacy from patients and families, and if they provide opportunities for individual privacy as well as socialization with coworkers. Having physical access to private outdoor spaces (e.g., balconies or porches) was shown to have significantly greater perceived restorative potential, in comparison with window views, artwork, or indoor plants.

Conclusions: The results of this empirical study support the conclusion that improvements in the restorative quality of break areas may significantly improve nurses’ satisfaction and stress reduction, potentially leading to improved care for the patients they serve.

Keywords: nurse, fatigue, rest break, policy, break spaces, built environment, health, quality of care

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