Point of Decision Design: Healthy Choice. Healthy Campus.

Dec 01, 2016

Research Question: How can design influence college student health choices by targeting the critical points-of-decision?

Project Objectives:
- To understand the chronic problem of obesity on college campuses and the link to diet and activity decisions
- To discern how and “where” college students make decisions about physical activity and nutrition
- To synthesize design strategies implemented at these points-of-decision to prompt healthy decisions amongst the myriad choices on typical college campuses
- To generate a design guide for practitioners to aid point-of-decision design for college students
- To develop a research concept for future research bringing together the fields of public health and architecture around point-of-decision design

- Literature scan
- Cross-disciplinary Ideation Session, inviting 36 participants from all over the US, including: campus facilities planners, architects, designers, public health and student health experts, and undergraduate and graduate students
- Follow-up survey to attendees to clarify themes from the session
- Set of visual design guidelines, generated through an integration of prior research and the session results

Key Findings:
1. Current literature on designing healthy campuses is more biased towards movement and physical activity than diet. A gap exists that is an opportunity for future design research.
2. Using design for better decision-making is not a very well understood construct. Literature focuses on how a healthy context can be created, but not as much on how design can be a catalyst for healthier decisions.
3. Current thinking on healthy colleges focuses on urban design and campus planning strategies, whereas our findings show that decisions about activity/ diet could be made by students before ever stepping into campus. Leveraging technology/ smartphones as part of the design solution is imperative.
4. Point-of-decision is a person-centric– not a place-centric, construct across settings. Understanding diverse user personas and mapping their journeys can aid in determining points of decision. Key points of decision emergent from this literature review include: the smartphone, path, home, dining facility, courtyard, bed, car, corridor, recreation center, classroom, parking location, public space, workstation and online.
5. Behavioral decisions students make are often influenced by a range of factors; such factors can be sorted into 4 key constructs: Availability, Access, Affordability, and Appeal.
6. Design strategies to address a person-centered framework that can respond to a myriad of dynamic influences can be considered along a design continuum ranging from information and product design to interior, architecture and urban design. Some strategies emergent from the lit review and ideation include: farmers’ markets, communal kitchens, healthy food offerings and placement, hydration stations, recharge zones, open flex spaces, mixed use buildings, lighting strategies, street trees, bike parking systems, and street furnishings.

Upali Nanda, PhD, Assoc. AIA (HKS; CADRE)
Michelle Eichinger, MS, MPA (Designing4Health)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The American Institute of Architects

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