Challenges for design researchers in healthcare

Bob Groeneveld, Tessa Dekkers, Boudewijn Boon, Patrizia D'Olivo

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Design research in healthcare can be demanding. We report on eight challenges that designers and design researchers face when working on healthcare projects. We conducted four workshops with design researchers active in healthcare: six PhD candidates, a mixed group of thirteen design researchers, twelve design students, and eight design practitioners. Participants shared critical events from recent projects and reflected collaboratively to identify common challenges across different design approaches or disciplines. An analysis of the workshop materials resulted in eight themes of challenges, divided into three clusters. The first cluster, challenges in practice, includes (1) conducting fieldwork, (2) involving end users, and (3) dealing with sensitive situations. The second cluster, managerial challenges, includes (4) managing relations, (5) building understanding, and (6) communicating value. Finally, in the third cluster, generic challenges, includes (7) attuning to time and financial restrictions and (8) establishing rapport. This overview can contribute to design education and practice by helping both novice and experienced designers recognize and anticipate potential hurdles when engaging with the complexities of the healthcare environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-326
Number of pages22
JournalDesign for Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Collaboration
  • design education
  • design management
  • interdisciplinary
  • narrative inquiry


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