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Affective design of waiting areas in primary healthcare

Ebru Ayas (Division of Quality and Human Systems Engineering, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Jörgen Eklund (Division of Quality and Human Systems Engineering, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden, and Division of Industrial Ergonomics, STH, Royal Institute of Technology, Huddinge, Sweden)
Shigekazu Ishihara (School of Psychological Science, Hiroshima International University, Hiroshima, Japan)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 13 June 2008




This paper seeks to deal with affective design of waiting areas (servicescapes) and has twofold aims. The first, is to explore affective values for waiting areas. The second, is to identify interactions between physical design attributes and affective values.


This study included a free association method for data collection, applying Kansei engineering methodology to extract design solutions relating to specific feelings. The study was undertaken at six primary health centres in Östergötland County, Sweden. In total, 88 participants (60 patients and 28 staff) were interviewed.


The selected waiting areas show significant differences for their perceived affective qualities. The most desired feeling for creating affective values is found to be “calm”. The core design attributes contributing to this feeling are privacy, colours, child play‐areas and green plants. Good design of lighting, seating arrangements and a low sound level are also important design attributes to give a more complete design solution.

Research limitations/implications

The study provides useful insights for understanding affective needs in servicescapes, and it provides design suggestions. The results have not been analysed separately for gender or different age groups.

Practical implications

The paper proposes a framework model to be applied when dealing with affective values in servicescapes.


This paper makes an original contribution to understand affective values towards the physical environment in servicescape design. It offers a methodology to study complex environments with many alternative design solutions using limited resources. Moreover, this study uses a combination of a free association method and Rough Sets theory in affective design.



Ayas, E., Eklund, J. and Ishihara, S. (2008), "Affective design of waiting areas in primary healthcare", The TQM Journal, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 389-408.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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