Introducing Positive Distraction in a Clinic Waiting Room

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This paper examines the impact of various types of positive distractions on perceived wait time, Discrepancy between Perceived and Actual wait time (DBPA) (whether actual and perceived wait time is the same, or over/under), perceived quality of care, and patient anxiety level. A quasi-experiment was conducted to test the hypotheses. In the experiment, three conditions were set up in a waiting room of a clinic, comprised of two positive distractions and a control. The first condition introduced a video of an aquarium into the room. The second introduced an interactive aquarium game that a waiting patient can interact with via a tablet. A third condition, in which TV news played on a TV in the background (as is the norm in the waiting room), was used as the control. Surveys were distributed to collect patient response on perceived wait time, perceived quality of care, and anxiety level. Receptionists and nurses coordinated to collect patients’ actual wait times. Behavioral observation was conducted to provide more objective data (e.g. patients’ actual activities while waiting). There were 408 patients who finished the survey, with 72 hours of behavioral observation conducted in total. The results partly support the hypotheses. DBPA was influenced by the interventions, and patient stress level was influenced by the perception of wait time. Perceived quality of care was correlated with a patient’s anxiety level. Based on the results, I suggest that DBPA might be a stronger indicator of a patient stress level than actual or perceived wait time, and that DBPA could be influenced by positive distraction.

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anxiety level; out-patient waiting experience; perceived quality of care; positive distraction; waiting rooms; wait time; Design; Environmental studies


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Shepley, Mardelle M.

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Evans, Gary W.

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Design and Environmental Analysis

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M.A., Design and Environmental Analysis

Degree Level

Master of Arts

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dissertation or thesis

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