The influence of visibility on staff face-to-face communication and efficiency in emergency departments

Arsalan Gharaveis, Mardelle M. Shepley, Kirk Hamilton, Debajyoti Pati, Susan Rodiek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the potential impacts of visibility on face-to-face communication among medical staff in community hospital emergency departments (EDs). Also, the researchers investigated how different types of visibility can increase/decrease the efficiency of EDs’ medical staff. Design/methodology/approach: This study used an exploratory approach to investigate the role of visibility in enhancement of medical staff communication in four EDs within the same hospital system. Overall, 12 semi-structured interviews and 48 h of observation were manually conducted. Findings: The findings suggest that communication among medical staff can be improved by enhancement of different types of visibility (general and staff-to-staff) in EDs. Also, visibility facilitates patient assessments, overall supervision, comfort and asking for help while reducing stress and distractions. Practical implications: The results of this investigation can inform hospital managers and healthcare designers about one of the important ways to improve registered nurses and physicians’ performance through environmental architectural design in the enhancement of communication. Originality/value: Understanding the importance of visibility as a design element would provide a crucial principle for future ED designs. Although research has been conducted with different focuses and methods in other hospital departments, nothing similar to the current study in EDs was available in the healthcare design published literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-363
Number of pages12
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Mar 8 2019


  • Communication
  • Emergency department
  • Healthcare design
  • Teamwork
  • Visibility


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