The work environment of nurses is complicated, stressful, detail-oriented, and
influences patient outcomes. Communication between nurses and members of the patient
care team is critical to the delivery of quality healthcare and also builds social support
among nurses. This exploratory study focuses on the influence of medical-surgical
nursing unit design on nurses’ communication. Space syntax theory was used as this
study’s theoretical framework and explored for its applicability to the study of medicalsurgical
nursing unit design.
This study was conducted in three parts: 1) a comprehensive literature review, 2)
a review of medical-surgical nursing unit floor plans for two constructs of space syntax
theory (visibility and accessibility), and 3) informal, semi-structured interviews. Findings
of this exploratory study’s literature review indicate that the majority of research focusing
on the work environment for nurses in an urban medical-surgical nursing unit is
quantitative, and therefore lacks a rich description of the nurses’ perspectives of their
work environments. Based on the literature review, the following findings were
identified in the context of space syntax theory a) a relationship exists between the
variables of the designed environment and interpersonal communication; b) the layout
configuration of medical-surgical nursing units affects nurses’ communication and social
support; and c) medical-surgical nursing unit plan configurations vary and may not
always reflect available quantitative research.
The initial findings from the floor plan analysis indicate that space syntax theory
applied to the study of healthcare environments may create confusion due to the complexities of the theory’s constructs and study methods. Interviews provided several
personal experiences and, upon initial review, may provide contradictory information to
the earlier findings of space syntax theory.
This study seeks to build a foundation of knowledge for future qualitative
research using space syntax theory for the study of medical-surgical nursing unit design’s
influence on nurses’ communication.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. March 2010. Major: Design. Advisor: Dr. Caren S. Martin. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 198 pages. xiii, 198 pages. Ill. (some col)
Trzpuc, Stefnee Jayne.
An examination of the impact of medical-surgical nursing unit configuration on nurses’ communication using space syntax theory..
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