Thanks for checking in, this page will be used to update participants on any presentations or publications created throughout this project.

As this project has just been launched, it will take some time before enough data is generated for publication. In the meantime, you are welcome to read about the Chief Investigator on this project and look at research she has conducted previously.

Rebecca McLaughlan is a New Zealand registered architect who has been engaged in research about healthcare environments for the last decade. Her PhD investigated historical architectural responses for mental healthcare from 1960 to 1972; more recently she was a research fellow on the ARC-Linkage project “Designing for Wellbeing: Realising benefits for patients through best practice hospital design” (University of Melbourne with Lyons architects). Rebecca has also collaborated with Melbourne architectural practices NTC Architects and Parallel Practice providing research support to current projects being undertaken in paediatric hospice care and mental healthcare.

Please find below a list of recent publications about the design of healthcare environments, please hit the link to request a copy of any of these articles:

McLaughlan, R., Sadek, A. & Willis, J. (2019). Attractions to fuel the imagination: Reframing understandings of the role of distraction relative to well-being in the pediatric hospital. Health Environments Research & Design Journal (12), 130-146.

Hospital designers use distraction as a design strategy to help patients feel better. At Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital there are multiple distractions including a two-story aquarium, meerkats enclosure, a movie theatre, Starlight room and a large artwork that children can climb on. Traditionally the success of environmental features like these have been measured by their capacity to hold the attention of a hospital user; momentarily distracting them from being sick. In this study, where data was collected from 246 children and young people, we found that holding attention was less important than the fact that these distractions were able to positively reframe children and young peoples’ expectations of visiting a hospital, transforming it into a place they wanted to come back to.

Image: The meerkats’ enclosure at Royal Children’s Hospital (Melbourne), designed by Bates Smart in association with Billard Leece Partnership. Photograph by R. McLaughlan.

McLaughlan, R. (2018). Psychosocially supportive design: The case for greater attention to social space within the pediatric hospital. Health Environments Research & Design Journal (11), 151-162.

While hospital designers are encouraged to create socially supportive spaces for patients and their families, few guidelines exist to show designers how this can be done. This article reviewed literature from the fields of healthcare design, sociology and environmental psychology and argued that designers must integrate knowledge from these three different fields in order to understand how to make better hospital spaces to support patients and their families.

McLaughlan, R. & Liddicoat, S. (2018). Evidence and affect: Employing virtual reality to probe what’s missing from evidence-based design research. Design for Health (2), 285-304.

Hospital designers are encouraged to create spaces that reduce anxiety for patients. Curiously, while anxiety is an emotion, there is very little research that investigates the emotional responses of hospital users to the different types of spaces architects create. We don’t know, for example, how people might react to a hospital filled with bright colours versus one with white walls and natural timber. This article reports findings from a pilot study that used virtual reality to try and understand how people respond to three healthcare spaces by architects who design using very different styles.

Image: The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (Melbourne), designed by Silver Thomas Hanley, DesignInc and McBride Charles Ryan. This space was the site used for the virtual reality research project. Photographs by S. Liddicoat.

McLaughlan, R. (2017). Learning from evidence-based medicine: Exclusions and opportunities within health care environments research. Design for Health (1), 210-228.

This article takes a closer look at the research methods used within healthcare environments research and argues that, in addition to valuing the research emerging from the field of evidence-based design, value should equally be placed on the opinions of hospital users and the intuition of the architect in creating better hospital spaces.

Image: Student work by Sarah Lam Po Tang (University of Melbourne) speculating on the future of palliative care design, 2016.

McLaughlan, R. & Pert, A. (2018). Evidence and speculation: Reimagining approaches to architecture and research within the paediatric hospital. Medical Humanities Journal (44), 146-152.

This article reviews two student projects that employ “speculative design” as a research method to ask different kinds of questions about how designers’ think about paediatric hospitals and whether we are missing opportunities to do things differently in the future.

Image: Student work by Ding Yu (University of Melbourne) speculating on the future of paediatric hospital design, 2016.