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If you liked this post, please share:

Once again, healthcare design made mainstream news this week as NBC News posted a piece on the healing power of art on its website. For the most part, it was good, quoting a lot of knowledgeable sources and sharing interesting facts, like:

  • More than 40% of healthcare facilities had arts programs in 2007
  • More than half of veterans medical facilities offer arts programming at the patient bedside
  • A recent study found that blood flow increased 10 percent to the “joy response” part of the brain when subjects saw a beautiful painting
  • More than 60 percent of patients at the Cleveland Clinic reported a reduction in stress from the hospital’s contemporary art collection

But those reporters, they always have to throw in a little controversy. This time it was about evidence-based design.

Describing evidence-based design as “basing art decisions on health data,” the reporter quoted two people at McGill University School of Architecture who criticized evidence-based design for not being rigorous enough.  But it seemed to me that they were only referring to the evidence itself.

Because it’s much more than just evidence.  It’s a process by which you make design decisions based on the best available evidence linking the design of the physical environment to outcomes, and then measure the results of those decisions.  If you do all 8 steps, you produce more evidence.

I’ll agree with the folks at McGill that the evidence in certain areas isn’t all that strong.  But it’s pretty strong in the area of artwork (read my recent post on this topic). The reporter completely missed that in this piece.

No matter.  I’m happy to see the mainstream media covering healthcare design. Just as long as everyone understands that you can’t believe everything you read in print.

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Leave a comment

Margaret Fleming

7 years ago

One of your best. For those of us not active in design now, would you please list the 8 steps?

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

Hi Margaret — If you click on the link, you’ll go to a blog post I did earlier that lists the steps.

Barbara Allen

7 years ago

Interesting to see similar questions related to Evidence Based Medicine. A recent BMJ article (June 13 2014 “Is Evidence Based Medicine In Crisis?”) suggests the EBM model has been used too often as a marketing tool for pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

Thanks for sharing, Barbara. There are many similarities between EBD and EBM.

Ron Smith

7 years ago

Well-said, Sara! EBD is a process, and DESIGN is the ‘main thing’.

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

Glad you agree, Ron!

Mark Hoffman

7 years ago

As much as the media should be more inquisitive about EBD to ensure a fair accounting, there is another way for them to be enlightened – talking with EBD practioners and users. The more knowledgeable they are, the more facts and success stories are brought to light.

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

Good point, Mark. Some were quoted in this article, but the take on EBD was definitely slanted toward the negative.

Bill Coble

7 years ago

Sara, Great points that are balanced on EBD, I appreciate your focus on challenging the status quo and encouraging us to stay focused on the process and keeping the discussion going. Your blog is more than a blog – it’s a resource.

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

Thanks, Bill! If we all challenge it a little bit, maybe there will be some movement.

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[…] A recent NBC News post had some confusing reporting according to Sara Marberry, a Knowledge Expert in Healthcare Design, she discusses it at length here: […]

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[…] Once again, healthcare design made mainstream news this week as NBC News posted a piece on the healing power of art on its website. For the most part, it was good, quoting a lot of knowledgeable sources and sharing interesting facts, like…Read more. […]

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Sara Marberry, EDAC, is a healthcare design knowledge expert, thought catalyst, and strategic marketing and business development consultant. The author/editor of three books, Sara writes and speaks frequently about industry trends and evidence-based design. She can be reached at sara@saramarberry.com.

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