The Role of Environmental Design in Substance Abuse Treatment: A Systematic Literature Review

Dagmar Rittenbacher

Authors:  Dagmar Rittenbacher, Sheila Bosch, PhD

Faculty Mentor:  Sheila Bosch, PhD

College:  College of Design, Construction, and Planning


Objectives: The purpose of this review is to summarize and systematically evaluate literature addressing the role of environmental design in substance abuse and addiction treatment and, specifically, to generate a list of environmental attributes (e.g. visibility of nurse stations) that may influence patient well-being.
Design and Methods: MeSH and thesaurus terms were used to identify the articles. The reviewed studies include relevant design implications within healthcare facilities, including acute care, mental or behavioral health, and rehabilitation. Some of the articles discussed the perception of visitors and staff members regarding the physical setting of addiction treatment centers.
Results: Fifteen articles were included in the review.
Conclusions: There is some evidence that indicates facility design strategies within substance abuse treatment centers may impact patient-related outcomes. Home-like settings, personalized spaces, open areas, meeting areas, and places for social interaction can contribute positively to treatment programs to achieve recovery.

Poster Pitch

Click the video below to view the student's poster pitch.


Click the image to enlarge.