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  1. Zborowsky, Terri PhD
  2. Hellmich, Lou Bunker PhD


What is the role of the built environment in healing? What aspects of the built environment promote healing, staff efficiency, and patient safety? How can we know if these assertions hold true? Can scientific research help us validate these assumptions? These questions are important to explore, especially for our most vulnerable patients-those in critical care settings. This article explores the historical influences on health care design, reveals how the current health care transformation movement has accelerated the incorporation of elements of the built environment into patient safety and quality improvement effort, discusses how healing environments are constructed, and examines how the literature of health care and health care design organizations have incorporated the impact of the built environment on patient, family, and staff outcomes and satisfaction. Finally, a case study of applying "design hypotheses" and a scientific method to the design of an intensive care unit setting is offered. This article will help critical care nurses understand the role the built environment has in creating optimal healing environments.