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International Research

The Academy is in the development of a series of global interdisciplinary research work groups / networks that aim to address and progress specific issues relating to the development of psycho-socially supportive environments.

Each project aims to bring new thinking to an issue concerned with the design of healthy environments. Key issues to address include: sustainability; patient safety; design quality; care at home; mental health; elderly care; lighting; flooring; interiors.

Current Research Programs

Psychosocially Supportive Design

- A Salutgenic Approach on Physical Environments
Alan Dilani1[*], Charlotte Conrad2 and Henrik Tangen3

1. Karolinska Institutet, Dep. of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics (LIME) Design & Health, Sweden
2. HR-manager, Research Center Design & Health, Sweden
3. Health Promoter, Research Center Design & Health, Sweden

From a research perspective, health can be divided into a pathogenic and salutgenic approach. Pathogenic research focuses on explaining why certain etiological factors cause disease and how they are developed in the physiological organism. Salutgenic research is based on identifying wellness factors that maintain and promote health, rather than investigate factors that cause disease. In this article, different research fields are studied and psychosocially supportive elements that can promote health and well-being are identified. The article shows how the salutgenic approach provides a basic theoretical framework for psychosocially supportive design in the physical environment. The result emphasizes that following factors can be psychosocial supportive and promote the individual’s health and wellbeing: daylight; good lighting; attractive and inviting space for social interaction; private and quiet space; landmarks; access to visual and physical nature, symbolic and spiritual elements, art, music, space for restoration; and interior design with positive distractions. The results also indicate that it is important to be in control of lighting, daylight, sound and social interaction. One of the conclusions is that it is time for decision makers to implement psychosocially supportive design. The conclusions indicate that psychosocially supportive design can promote health, well-being and also increase productivity and profitability.

Keywords: Health, Health promotion Psychosocially supportive design, Physical environment, Salutgenic research, Sound, Daylight, Lighting,, Music, Nature, Restoration, Space, Landmarks, Productivity.

Health Promotion by Design in Elderly Care
Alan Dilani, Ph.D. and Agneta Morelli, B.Sc.

Objective: The overall purpose of this study was to systematically investigate the environmental requirements of health promotion by design in elderly care and to identify the specific supportive design conditions contributing to the promotion of healthy living and working environments. Methods: A combination approach based on the Future Workshop model (action research) was used. The reference group consisting of thirty persons participated in a series of workshops, seminars and field studies. A questionnaire directed to health care staff included subjective measures of health using the Sense of Coherence Scale, a Health Index Scale and a section of questions developed by the authors regarding the experienced physical environment. The study was carried out at Vårbergs Nursing Home in Stockholm, Sweden during the year 2004. Results: The results pointed to a correlation between experienced health and sense of coherence among health care staff. The importance of the physical living and working environment for health rated higher compared to existing environmental conditions. Specific and essential design requirements for healthy living and working environments in elderly care were identified and recommended. Implications: This research demonstrates a need to develop organizational values and non-pharmacological alternatives within elderly care. The designed environment is one of the most enduring approaches and requires a deeper understanding of the interaction between the physical environment and the aging person in this particular setting. Conditions to support health among the elderly would be improved through the use of psychosocially supportive design as a complement to the medical model.

Keywords: Elderly care, Health promotion, Environmental Design, Health


Health Supportive Design in Elderly Care Homes:
Swedish Examples and their implications on Korean Counterparts

Sookyoung Lee - Guest Researcher, Research Center Design & Health, Stockholm, Sweden
Alan Dilani - Director, Research Center Design & Health, Stockholm, Sweden
Agneta Morelli - Project Manager, Research Center Design & Health, Stockholm, Sweden

The objective of this research study was twofold; 1) to explore and identify health supportive design factors in Swedish elderly care homes and 2) to understand their usefulness and suggest applications in Korean elderly care settings. A descriptive and explorative method was applied using a combination of field studies and semi-structured interviews. Three study trips were carried out during Sept. 14th and Oct. 12th 2005; two facilities situated in Stockholm suburbs and one in the south of Sweden. According to this research, the valuable factors to support health and well-being for the elderly are as follows; 1) Community integration: In urban planning, these elderly care homes are generally places close to a residential area center or a city center. Services are often shared between residents and community members at large, consequently there is a flow of “visitors” of all ages connecting with the facility on a daily basis. 2) Homelike environment: A noteworthy aspect of Swedish elderly care homes is keeping the facility appearance as homelike as possible. The associations with home may be explored through the appearance and configuration of both the exterior and interior of the building. These homes seemed to be designed with a conscious aim to create a homelike setting. 3) Accessibility to garden and nature: The courtyard is a well developed concept in designing elderly care homes in Sweden. They are generally safe and easily accessible to the residents. Studying Swedish models may provide practical knowledge of how the physical setting may improve resident’s health in Korean elderly care homes.

Keywords: elderly care home, health supportive design, community integration, homelike environment, accessibility to nature

Please contact:
Prof Alan Dilani, director general: T +46 70 453 90 70 or E:

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