Wayfinding in the Hospital Environment: The Impact of Various Floor Numbering Alternatives

Janet Reizenstein Carpman
Myron A. Grant
Deborah A. Simmons

DOI: 10.2190/590Y-QCBR-TBVN-B9PW


Finding one's way around a large, complex building like a hospital is a difficult task at best. Add in the stress that most hospital patients and visitors experience and the task becomes even more arduous. A decision as basic as how floors are numbered can have important ramifications on orientation and wayfinding. A study was designed to discover which of several feasible floor numbering schemes would be most comprehensible to hospital patients (both inpatients and outpatients), visitors (inpatient visitors and outpatient companions), and staff. Patients and visitors were asked to complete a simple wayfinding task as well as to rate each of the floor numbering alternatives for preference; staff rated the alteratives in terms of their overall desirability. The results showed that one option (Sub 1, Sub 2) was interpreted correctly most often and was highly preferred by the patients and visitors interviewed. Conversely, staff members preferred numbering the floors 1, 2. The divergence in preferences and its relationship to wayfinding is discussed.

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