Setya, Nidhi (2014-04). Impact of Physical Environment of a Rehabilitation Facility on the Social Support and Interaction Patterns of Spinal Cord Injury Patients and their Family and Friends: A Naturalistic Inquiry. Master's Thesis.
Previous research has demonstrated the positive effects of family and friends support on the overall well-being of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) rehabilitation patients. This study explores the ways in which physical environment can provide for social support to SCI patients in inpatient rehabilitation in order to improve their health outcomes. Since there is not enough literature available in the field of architecture to help in the development of hypotheses to be tested related to the physical environment of the social situation, the researcher aimed to develop a theory for future studies. This study was conducted as a naturalistic inquiry. Ten medical staff caring for the patient group and currently working at Willis-Knighton Health System (WKHS), Shreveport, LA were interviewed in order to understand their perceptions regarding the effect of the healthcare environment on the quality of interaction between patients and their family and friends. The results indicated that caregivers believed patient rooms to have highest potential of providing quality patient-family interaction because patients spend most of their days in their rooms. Physical Therapy gym, Occupational Therapy gym and leisure room (day room) were also discussed as important places that patients and families could use together. Lack of enough space was thought to be the biggest barrier in the nature of their interaction. Implications of this study are that additional studies are required to determine the minimum space requirement for SCI patient rooms with family zone. Architectural design of these spaces should account for the functional space requirement.