Design and Healthcare: Evaluation of emotional experience in pediatric radiology
Authors: Ester Iacono, Laura Vagnoli, Enrica Ciucci, Francesca Tosi
Abstract: It is well known to anyone who has had a direct or indirect hospital experience how the sterile and aseptic healthcare system often generates negative emotions such as anxiety, frustration, and pain. It is usually due to the exclusively functional aspect of medical equipment (MRI scans, ventilators, ultrasounds, etc.), which induces fear and perception of threat, neglecting the importance of formal and emotional aspects within the healthcare environment. In the last decade, the intervention of Design on hospital aesthetics, products, communication, and services has allowed a partial reduction of stress and anxiety levels, improving patient satisfaction and guaranteeing, at the same time, health and healing.However, the contribution of Design becomes even more decisive when it comes to pediatric patients, who need a hospital system that considers their needs, feelings and opinions. Therefore, the vision of the patient as a person with psycho-emotional and relational, as well as physical and functional requirements, led the designers to design equipment and spaces with a pleasant and familiar appearance, which would favour the reduction of the trauma of hospitalisation and negative emotions experienced by young patients. Although some design interventions present in the literature demonstrate great sensitivity towards the world of children, the contribution of Design in the hospital setting is still minimal.Based on the scientific contributions provided by various disciplines such as Affective sciences, Social and Cognitive Neurosciences, Cognitive Psychology and Design, this research addresses the issue of children's affectivity in the evaluation and Design of positive user experiences. It questions the possible areas of implementation and the evaluation strategies and tools of Human-Centered Design (HCD), User Experience (UX), Affective Evaluation Methods (AEM) of Psychology, Affective Sciences, and Cognitive Ergonomics that allow the measurement of emotions. Specifically, the study aims to understand the following:- how it is possible to evaluate the emotional impact generated by the health system on the child;- the emotional response of children in interaction with the health product-service system.In particular, the study's main focus was analysing the emotional impact generated by the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination before and after the examination simulation procedure with the Philips Kitten Scanner to understand the actual contribution.This research presents the results of a survey conducted within the diagnostic imaging department of the Meyer University Hospital in collaboration with the NOS ERGOMeyer group and the Ergonomics & Design laboratory of the University of Florence.The methodological approach of the research was quantitative and envisaged the application of Ergonomics for Design and Human-Centered Design methods. Specifically, the single-centre observational survey was conducted by structured interviews and questionnaires addressed to healthcare personnel and psychologists who work with children, especially in the hospital setting.From the survey, it was possible to grasp and define: the main behaviours and emotional factors linked to the hospital world, the primary emotional difficulties of the child linked both to the disease, but also to the context of care, the negative impact of medical instruments/equipment, the benefits and the criticalities related to the preparation of the MRI exam, but above all the importance of the game in minimising the negative emotions associated with medical procedures and the hospital system. Therefore, the survey highlighted many possibilities for implementing and developing design solutions to improve the young patient's emotional experience.
Keywords: Emotional impact, emotional design in healthcare, user experience, magnetic resonance imaging, pediatric radiology
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