Current and Completed Projects


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Research Overview

The institute’s research focus includes topics related to the integration of:

  • Applications of Design/Creative Process to Organizational Improvement
  • Facility Planning, Human Factors, and Design
  • Health Services Management
  • Human Resource Management/Training and Leadership
  • Inter-relationship between hospitality, healthcare, and design
  • Lean Thinking and Productivity Enhancement
  • Process/Systems/Quality Improvement
  • Services Excellence/Patient-Family Experience
  • Sustainable and Restorative Systems Design
  • Technological Innovations for Service Excellence in Healthcare

Ongoing Projects

The Impact of Green Space on Violent Crime in Urban Environments: An Evidence Synthesis

Mardelle Shepley 1*
Naomi Sachs 1,2
Hessam Sadatsafavi 3
Christine Fournier 4
Kati Peditto 1

1 Department of Design & Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA; (N.S.); (K.P.)
2 Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
3 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA;
4 Mann Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA;

Abstract: Can the presence of green space in urban environments reduce the frequency of violent crime? To ascertain the evidence on this topic, we conducted an in-depth literature review using the PRISMA checklist. The search parameters included US articles written in English and published since 2000. More than 30,000 potential paper titles were identified and ultimately, 45 papers were selected for inclusion. Green spaces typically comprised tree cover, parks and ground cover. Criminal behaviors typically included murder, assault, and theft. The majority of the research reviewed involved quantitative methods (e.g., comparison of green space area to crime data). We extracted multiple mechanisms from the literature that may account for the impact of green space on crime including social interaction and recreation, community perception, biophilic stress reduction, climate modulation, and spaces expressing territorial definition. Recommendations are made for future research, such as meta-analysis of existing data and the development of grounded theory through qualitative data-gathering methods. By providing evidence that access to nature has a mitigating impact on violence in urban settings, city governments and communities are empowered to support these interventions.
The paper can be found here.

Healthcare Preferences and Living Environment for New York State

Empire State Healthcare Survey
Hessam Sadatsafavi, CIHF Postdoctoral Associate
Lu Kong, Ph.D. student
Rohit Verma, CIHF Executive Director

CIHF embarked on a survey initiative in an effort to take the pulse of New Yorkers in regards to their needs and expectations for their own healthcare. The collected data will help researchers and industry leaders discover the most pressing concerns from specific demographics within our population, and understand the demands for change of current standards.

The 2016 Empire State Healthcare Survey, conducted by CIHF through Cornell University’s Survey Research Institute (SRI), polled 800 New Yorkers of all backgrounds and political inclinations between February and April 2016. Residents were asked how they would rate their last hospital experience, their preferred outpatient care setting, their view of the impact of computer use on care, and what they think is the most urgent issue that needs to be addressed in the U.S. healthcare system. Preliminary results and extracted data from 2016 can be found here.

The 2016 data is supplemented by a second survey initiated by CIHF and conducted by SRI in 2017 which further refined the questions. The two years of combined data provides a benchmark of New York State residents’ attitudes, behaviors, and preferences about healthcare. Data from 2017 can be found here.

Workplace Design for Enhancing Workforce Wellbeing and Performance

Whitney Gray, Senior Vice President at Delos
Trey Curtis, Senior Research Associate at Delos
Hessam Sadatsafavi, CIHF Postdoctoral Associate
So-Yeon Yoon, CIHF Faculty Fellow
Rohit Verma, CIHF Executive Director
Mardelle Shepley, CIHF Associate Director

In the past three decades, definitions of a healthy workplace have evolved from traditional occupational health and safety (dealing with physical, chemical, biological and ergonomic hazards), to include health practice factors (lifestyle) and psychosocial factors (work organization and workplace culture). Meanwhile, under a new landscape of inherently global, digital, fast-paced, and competitive business environments, organizations increasingly recognize the significance of the physical setting for fostering creativity and innovation in the workplace. However, little empirical evidence exists that links workplace design attributes to employee and organizational outcomes. In response to this research need, CIHF and Delos have formed a partnership to study the impact of workplace strategies on objective and subjective indicators of employees’ cognitive functioning, mental and physical health, prosocial behavior, creativity, and interaction and communication patterns.

Anticipation and Surprise with a Service Experience: Implications for Subjective Wellbeing

Photo of Robert KwortnickRobert Kwortnik
Associate Professor, Services Marketing
Cornell University

Check back later for more updates!


Completed Projects

Environmental Design for End of Life Care: An Integrative Review on Improving Quality of Life and Managing Symptoms for Patients in Institutional Settings

Rana Sagha Zadeh, PhD, MArch
Paul Eshelman, B.S. M.F.A
Judith Setla, MD, MPH, FACP
Laura Kannedy, B.S.
Emily Hon, B.S. and MD Candidate
Aleska Basara, BSc, B.A. Candidate

The environment in which end-of- life care is delivered can support or detract from the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of patients, their families, and their caretakers. This review aimed to organize and analyze the existing evidence related to environmental design factors that improve the quality of life and total well-being of people involved in end-of- life care and to clarify directions for future research. The integrated literature review synthesized and summarized research evidence in the fields of medicine, environmental psychology, nursing, palliative care, architecture, interior design, and evidence-based design.

Heath Workers’ Views on Work Environments

Rana Sagha Zadeh, D.Arch, MA, M.Arch
Mardelle Shepley, D.Arch, MA, BA
Arthur Hamie Owara, MPH, DrPH
Martha Cannenbaurm, M.D. FACOG
Laurie Waggener, BSRC, RRT, BID
Susan Sung Eun Chung, PhD, MID

Enhancing the recruitment and retention of a competent and competitive workforce and creating more attractive work conditions are priorities for healthcare organizations. The shortage of healthcare workers (HWs) has been a long-standing problem; there are many job vacancies, a growing need for employees, and an increase in demand for care as baby boomers grow older. This objective of this study was to examine the importance of specific workplace environment characteristics for maximum health and performance, assigned by healthcare employees, and how they relate to the nature of their work. Findings suggest that perceptions of key environment characteristics that safeguard health and performance in healthcare workplaces may vary by employee gender, setting and nature of healthcare work involved. Theme and model descriptions of the influence of these factors on participant perceptions are provided. Employee feedback on workplace characteristics that impact health and performance could be instrumental in determining the priorities of workplace design.

Alert Workplace from Healthcare Workers’ Perspective: Behavioral and Environmental Strategies to Improve Vigilance and Alertness in Healthcare Settings

Rana Sagha Zadeh, D.Arch, MA, M.Arch
Mardelle Shepley, D.Arch, MA, BA
Hessam Sadatsafavi, PhD
Arthur Hamie Owora, MPH, DrPH
Ana C. Krieger, MD, MPH

This study aimed to identify the behavioral and environmental strategies that healthcare workers view as helpful for managing sleepiness, improving alertness, and therefore optimizing workplace safety. Reduced alertness is a common issue in healthcare work environments and is associated with impaired cognitive performance and decision-making ability as well as increased errors and injuries. We surveyed 136 healthcare professionals at a primary care clinic, an acute care hospital, and a mental health clinic. Nonstructured, semistructured, and structured questionnaires were used to elicit relevant information which was analyzed using qualitative content analysis and logistic regression models, respectively.

The Impact of Restaurant Menu Labeling on Food Choice

Many countries are struggling with chronic diseases related to poor diet, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. In response, governments and public health officials have sought policies to promote healthier diets. One important strategy is to require that restaurant menus list the calories associated with each menu option. That requirement was included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but has not yet been implemented. In this research project, a randomized controlled field experiment was conducted that tests how consumers respond to calorie information when choosing foods in restaurants.

Specifically, restaurant patrons were randomized into treatment and control groups by table. The control group tables received the usual menus (with no calorie counts) and the treatment group tables received the same menus but with calorie counts listed for each item, in a manner that complies with the requirements of the ACA. All food and beverage orders were recorded and matched to each patron. Additionally, patrons were surveyed after the completion of their meal to gather their opinions about health, exercise, nutrition, and calorie labels.

While data is continuing to be collected in the field, preliminary results suggest that calorie counts may result in modest reductions in the number of calories ordered. One clear and consistent result is that those exposed to the calorie information are more supportive of requiring it to be listed.

Photo of John CawleyJohn Cawley
Professor, Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Department of Economics
Cornell University


Photo of Alex SusskindAlex Susskind
Associate Professor, School of Hotel Administration
Cornell University


Probabilistic Return-on-Investment Analysis of Single-Family Versus Open Bay Rooms in Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Hessam Sadatsafavi, CIHF Postdoctoral Associate
Mardelle Shepley, CIHF Associate Director
Bahar Niknejad, Researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine, Internal Medicine Resident at Eastern Virginia Medical School

Premature and sick infants often have to spend a part of their most crucial development stages in an NICU environment. In recent years, increasing competition and attention to patient and family-centered care, along with growing evidence regarding advantages of single-family rooms versus open-bay rooms, have contributed to private rooms becoming a part of the recommended standards in NICUs. Overall, the conventional wisdom is in favor of the added benefit of single-family rooms in terms of reductions in costly nosocomial infections, shorter length of stay, and lower direct costs of care. Nevertheless, single-family rooms require additional space that is associated with higher initial construction costs and ongoing operation and maintenance expenses, as well as additional nonclinical support personnel.

The purpose of the this study was to synthesize current evidence and evaluate whether, from a hospital perspective, cost savings can justify the additional construction and operation costs of single-family rooms units as opposed to open-bay units. We used a probabilistic approach to account for uncertainties associated with analysis parameters and quantify the overall risk of the investments. Study findings can be found at here.


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