Nurses' Participation in the Design of an Intensive Care Unit: The Use of Virtual Mock-Ups

HERD. 2021 Apr;14(2):301-312. doi: 10.1177/1937586720935407. Epub 2020 Jul 16.


Background: Co-design with multiple tools is useful when end users' knowledge is important, especially when designers work with people unfamiliar with design. Many studies have highlighted the importance of nurses' participation in design, and such participation requires the development of techniques and tools to facilitate collaboration. This article analyzes how nurses participated in designing a general intensive care unit in a walk-in virtual environment (VE) and examines how their work-related knowledge can be transferred to the design process of spaces.

Method: In this action research study, the design process was conducted by using virtual mock-ups, which were evaluated by multi-occupational groups in a walk-in VE. Nurses were the largest occupational group. Their work processes were under modification, since existing multi-patient rooms were being redesigned as single-patient rooms. The design of single-patient rooms was performed in three iterative cycles in the walk-in VE.

Results: The nurses could specify their requirements in the walk-in VE, and their suggestions were incorporated into the architectural design process. The nurses were satisfied with their role in the design process.

Conclusion: Co-design with virtual mock-ups in walk-in VE is appropriate when designing new healthcare facilities and when the opinions of workers are important. Virtual mock-ups in walk-in VE can be used collaboratively, facilitating simultaneous feedback from multiple users. Virtual reality (VR) technology has evolved, and changes can be made rapidly and at a lower cost. Another advantage of VR is that it allows one to design larger spaces, thus providing larger layouts of facilities for evaluation.

Keywords: co-design; intensive care unit; nurses; single-patient room; virtual environment; virtual mock-ups.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Nurses*
  • Patients' Rooms*