Design Models for Single Patient Rooms Tested for Patient Preferences

Clarine J. van Oel*, Meloek Mlihi, Arno Freeke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Using 3D design models, this study aims to better involve patients in the design of hospitals by investigating what physical environmental characteristics in hospital patient rooms are valued by patients. There is a plea for shared-decision-making and collaborative design processes with representatives from healthcare and the construction sector based on evidence and end users’ perspectives. Existing research is hampered by poor conceptualization of environmental design factors, as these are differently operationalized between medical and technological sciences. Architects communicate through visuals, whereas medical professionals and researchers tend to communicate in words. By using 3D-modeling to research the relationship between health and well-being on the one hand, and the affordances the built environment offers, this knowledge gap can be better addressed. Two hundred four respondents, 60% patients and 40% medical professionals, engaged in discrete choice experiments visualizing a single patient room. A main finding is that patients and medical professionals consistently choose for hospital rooms with the highest amount of daylight access. What this study adds is that the orientation of the windows matters as well. Horizontal windows, allowing for a panoramic view, were twice as much chosen than were vertical windows. Another important finding concerns patients’ preferences for an open door, suggesting patients prefer to stay “connected” to the outside world. This study is important as it shows, empirically, that patients may make different choices if in research the rooms are better conceptualized and thus visualized and if multiple design features are assessed as configuration rather than using a sequential, “one-design-characteristic-after-another” approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-46
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Environments Research and Design Journal
Volume14 (2021)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventARCH19: 4th Architecture Research Care & Health: Building for Better Health - Research & innovation in architecture & urban design for care & health - Trondheim, Norway
Duration: 12 Jun 201913 Jun 2019


  • discrete choice experiments
  • evidence-based design
  • hospital design
  • patient preferences
  • single patient rooms


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