Preliminary Findings Shared

19 Jan Preliminary Findings Shared

Can design influence user satisfaction and use?

Adding to the literature of evidence-based design is a recent study funded by AAHF comparing user satisfaction of two maternity waiting homes in Malawi, each with a different architectural design. One home was built following a standard “barracks-like” design developed by the Ministry of Health, and the other a “village” design, developed by MASS Design Group, which responds to user needs by breaking up the sleeping quarters into more intimate spaces, adding toilets and showers, and integrating additional indoor and outdoor common spaces. Use of maternity waiting homes (residential facilities that temporarily house near-term pregnant mothers close to healthcare facilities that provide obstetrical care) are being promoted in developing countries, including Malawi, to provide access to safer facility-based deliveries but, in many cases, are being underutilized. This study sought to empirically show how designing maternity waiting homes to better meet mothers’ needs can influence user satisfaction and encourage their use — thereby increasing medical facility deliveries, and ultimately in reductions in maternal and infant morbidity and mortality.

In the study, women at both sites were surveyed about their experiences staying at the maternity waiting homes. The “village” design had higher satisfaction ratings for the majority of design factors examined (sleep areas, private storage space, toilet and shower amenities, kitchen facilities, outdoor spaces, air and water quality, building maintenance, thermal comfort, and overall satisfaction) and final models showed that toilets and showers, guardian spaces, safety, building maintenance, sleep areas, and private storage spaces were the most important factors related to overall satisfaction. These findings not only demonstrate that design matters, but also identify where to focus limited resources to improve maternity waiting home design. Due to the study’s pending publication further reporting on results will be shared at a later date.