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Fay, Cai, and Real reviewed empirical peer-reviewed studies related to decentralized nursing stations (DNSs) published in the last 15 years.  They determined that “(a) there is a positive trend toward patient experience in units with DNS, (b) nursing teamwork was perceived to decline in units with DNS . . . and (d) there is no consistent categorization of nurse station typology or standard definition for DNS.. . .Based on the evaluation framework, DNS are supportive of the patient experience yet have a negative impact on nursing teamwork.”

Lindsey Fay, Hui Cai, and Kevin Real.  “A Systematic Literature Review of Empirical Studies on Decentralized Nursing Stations.” HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press,

Research conducted with children may indicate a way to at least partially compensate for lack of nature views in areas where people are likely to feel stressed.  Pearson and team collected data from pediatric hospital patients (2-18 years old) who were assigned to hospital rooms that either had no applique like overlays that partially covered the windows of their rooms or realistic overlays on their windows that were reminiscent of an undersea environment (“aquatic animals and sea plants”) or a wooded meadow (“greenery, trees, and grass”). The window in each room looked out onto a courtyard “with minimal landscaping. . . . Neither the landscape below nor the sky above were visible from the participants’ beds.” The researchers determined that “Patients in the rooms with murals [these are the ones with the overlays] were found to have improvements in heart rate and systolic blood pressure. . . .  patients in tree murals rooms had the most health-related outcomes. . . . the tree [mural covered] 45.23% of the window and the fish mural covering 51.77% of the window. The design of the window murals still allows for adequate natural daylight and has visual connection to the outdoors via the existing windows. . . . The mean change in systolic blood pressure was significantly greater in the rooms with tree murals than the control group on Day 2 (24–48 hr). The difference in means of change between the control group and the fish group was not significant. . . . the installation of window murals may mimic the effects of actual nature scenes.”

Michelle Pearson, Kristi Gaines, Debajyoti Pati, Malinda Colwell, Leslie Motheral, and Nicole Adams.  “The Physiological Impact of Window Murals on Pediatric Patients.” HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press,

Ueda and teammates evaluated links between audio pitch and perceptions of size.  They report that “information about the external world can be obtained from multisensory modalities and integrated. . . . we measured the correspondence between visual size and auditory pitch for each participant . . . participants were asked to resize virtual disks until they matched a corresponding sound; this was performed for five different frequencies. . . . the higher the pitch, the smaller the circle judged to match the sound.”

Sachiyo Ueda, Ayane Mizuguchi, Reiko Yakushijin, and Akira Ishiguchi.  “Effects of the Simultaneous Presentation of Corresponding Auditory and Visual Stimuli on Size Variance Perception.”  i-Perception, in press,

Anyone looking for a straightforward introduction to space syntax should read Haq’s recent article. As he states, “Space Syntax investigates layouts, seen in plan drawings; but this is done from mature theoretical arguments about function in those spaces. While theories of society were at the genesis of Space Syntax, it has branched into cognition, transportation, economics, and so on, and has been used to investigate buildings, cities, and regions. . . . This article concentrates on explaining the analytical techniques of Space Syntax. . . .  Since dedicated Space Syntax software can analyze vector drawings quickly, it is immediately useful to the practitioner. Layout proposals at different stages of design can be quickly evaluated, and changes made as needed and re-tested. Similarly, it can be a useful tool for Post Occupancy Evaluations to test the effect of layouts.”

Saif Haq.  “Where We Walk Is What We See:  Foundational Concepts and Analytical Techniques of Space Syntax.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press,

Wu, Moore, and Fitzsimons studied decision-making.  They investigated “how consumers make unilateral decisions on behalf of the self and multiple others, in situations where the chosen option will be shared and consumed jointly by the group—for instance, choosing wine for the table. Results across six studies using three different choice contexts (wine, books, and movies) demonstrate that such choices are shaped by the decision-maker’s self-construal (independent versus interdependent) and by the size of the group being chosen for (large versus small). Specifically, we find that interdependent consumers consistently make choices that balance self and others’ preferences, regardless of group size.  In contrast, the choices of independent consumers differ depending on group size:  for smaller groups, independents make choices that balance self and others’ preferences, while for larger groups, they make choices that more strongly reflect their own preferences.”  People in more collectivistic cultures are likely to have more interdependent worldviews while those from more individualistic ones are more likely to have independent ones.

Eugenia Wu, Sarah Moore, and Gavan Fitzsimons.  “Wine for the Table:  Self-Construal, Group Size, and Choice for Self and Others.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Researchers have learned more about how what is being viewed influences decisions made.  A press release from The Ohio State University reports that “Scientists using eye-tracking technology have found that what we look at helps guide our decisions when faced with two visible choices. . . .our gaze amplifies our desire for choices we already like.‘We don’t necessarily choose something just because we look at it more. . . . If we look at something we feel neutral about, our attention will have little effect,’ said Ian Krajbich, co-author of the study and assistant professor . . . at The Ohio State University.‘But if we look at something we already like, our attention makes us like it even more in that moment.’ . . . If you’re looking at two brands of an item you like at a store, the package that grabs and holds your attention will probably have an edge when you’re deciding which to buy.” The findings of Krajbich and his co-author, Stephanie Smith, will be published in Psychological Science.

“What Are You Looking At? How Attention Affects Decision-Making.” Press release, The Ohio State University,

Scientists continue to investigate how the bacteria in the microbiomes inside our bodies influence the ways that we think and behave.  Armstrong reports that “It’s tempting to tell yourself that you, or rather your brain, is the only driver behind the wheel when it comes to controlling your mind and body.  According to emerging research on bacteria and our brains, however, we may actually have some pretty powerful passengers riding shotgun:  the trillions of organisms that make up each of our microbiomes. . . . Our brains and the bacteria in our guts have a bidirectional, often mutually beneficial relationship unique to each individual the authors [Leigh Smith, University of California, Davis; Emily Wissel, Emory University] explain. There is a staggering amount of diversity both in the bacteria  we carry and in how our bodies react to them.”  People designing spaces and objects that support particular sorts of physical and cognitive experiences could find themselves applying research on human microbiomes as its practical uses become clear.

Kim Armstrong. 2018.  “Brains and Bacteria.”  Observer, vol. 31, no. 10, pp. 18-21. 

People negotiating with clients or developing at-client dining experiences can apply recent research related to sharing meals.  Fishbach and Woolley report that “When people in a business negotiation share not just a meal but a plate, they collaborate better and reach deals faster. . . .Sharing plates is customary in Chinese and Indian cultures, among others. Because the custom requires people to coordinate their physical actions, it might in turn prompt them to coordinate their negotiations.”  Fishbach and Woolley found that outcomes were the same when diners were friends and when they were strangers.  This study will be published in Psychological Science.

“Trying to Get People to Agree?  Skip the French Restaurant and Go Out for Chinese Food.”  2018.  Press release, University of Chicago,

Valdimarsdottir and colleagues studied depression levels among a hospitalized group; they linked lighting conditions and depression.  The team reports that “Over a third of multiple myeloma (MM) patients report clinical levels of depression during autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) hospitalization. . . .Patients . . . scheduled to receive an ASCT . . . were randomly assigned to one of two PEI [programmed environmental illumination] conditions involving delivery of either circadian active bright white light (BWL) or circadian inactive dim white light (DWL) throughout the room from 7 to 10 am daily during hospitalization. . . . analysis . . . [indicated] that PEI prevented the development of depression during hospitalization, with effects reaching significance by the third day of engraftment. At the third day of engraftment, 68.4% of the participants in the DWL comparison condition met the criteria for clinically significant depression compared to 42.1% in the BWL condition.. . . PEI using BWL during MM ASCT hospitalization is effective in reducing the development of depression.”

H. Valdimarsdottir, M. Figueiro, W. Holden, S. Lutgendorf, L. Wu, S. Ancoli-Israel, J. Chen, A. Hoffman-Peterson, J. Granski, N. Prescott, A. Vega, N. Stern, G. Winkel, and W. Redd. 2018.  “Programmed Environmental Illumination During Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation Hospitalization for the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma Reduces Severity of Depression:  A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial.”  Cancer Medicine, vol. 7, no. 9, pp. 4345-4353, doi:10.1002/cam4.1690.

Garrett and her team investigated the effects of views of water (for example, of oceans) on wellbeing. They found that “A view of blue space from the home was related to good self-reported [general] health” and that “Visiting blue spaces regularly was associated with high wellbeing.”  Also, “Visiting blue space regularly was more likely for those within a 10–15 min walk, and who believed visit locations had good facilities and wildlife present. Longer blue space visits, and those involving higher intensity activities, were associated with higher recalled wellbeing. Our evidence suggests that, at least for older citizens, Hong Kong's blue spaces could be an important public health resource.”  Data were collected in Hong Kong and 80% of participants were over 50 years old.  

Joanne Garrett, Mathew White, Junjie Huang, Simpson Ng, Zero Hui, Colette Leung, Lap Tse, Franklin Fung, Lewis Elliott, Michael Depledge, and Martin Wong.  “Urban Blue Space and Health and Wellbeing in Hong Kong:  Results from a Survey of Older Adults.” Health and Place, in press,


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