Design For Health


Integrating health into planning often uses the approach called evidence-based practice. An article on this topic by some of the folks from Design for Health, including me, is currently available for free: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a918403162~frm=titlelink. It was a finalist in the Association of European Schools of Planning Best Paper Prize: [link no longer active]

Details about the paper are below.
Is There a Role for Evidence-Based Practice in Urban Planning and Policy?
Authors: Kevin Krizek; Ann Forsyth; Carissa Schively Slotterback
Planning Theory and Practice, 2009, 10: 4, 459 — 478.

Can the craft of planning take advantage of a growing body of planning-relevant research? Evidence-based practice proposes a better connection between research and professional work, but raises several concerns about the character of valid evidence, the strength and clarity of planning research, and inequalities in the available resources for integrating research into planning practice. Much of planning practice is a reflective craft where skills of mediation, negotiation, listening, and framing are prominent. As part of the planner’s work employing these skills, however, there is a valuable role for research-generated evidence to inform decision making. Evidence-based practice needs careful implementation but it can enrich the field of planning by linking research to practice.

Technical Resource 2: InformeDesign

InformeDesign (http://www.informedesign.org/) is an online database of research on people and environments. With substantial funding from the American Society of Interior Designers, and based in the University of Minnesota Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel, the database emphasizes research at the building and component level. However, there is enough other work to make it worth a visit, even for urban planning scale investigations.

The site is basically a database of research summaries in a standard format: introduction, design issue or topic, design criteria or implications, key concepts or central ideas, research methods, limitations identified by the authors of the piece, commentaries on limitations noticed by the InformeDesign reviewers as well as additional information, and a full citation.
The site offers several navigation and search options though not all are obvious. A simple search window is on the home page. There is also an advanced search engine that I found to be well designed though results are listed by URL only and one has to click on the link to the summary to get more information such as titles. Also on the home page are buttons titled “space,” “issues,” and “occupants” that link to lists of subtopics that are further subdivided on later pages. When a user clicks on a subtopic, or a sub-subtopic, articles are listed by name and author and have check boxes to add to a personalized list.
For those interested in more general information about the project, a main menu links to useful information about the site, its sponsors, and the database. An online tutorial on Research 101 provides a refresher on research vocabulary and concepts.

Free Articles on Health and Environments

For those not at universities, finding research on the connections between health and places can be a bit tricky. However, a growing number of online resources are meeting these needs. The entry below lists just a few of  these:

Several research funders provide free access to journals:
Some government agencies who fund and use research have online databases, including free downloads:
  • The U.S. Transportation Research Board’s Transportation Research Information Service (TRIS) is a terrific database of transportation resources, some related to health and some of these available for free: http://tris.trb.org/.
There are a number of free online journals. Many are newer.

  • Examples of journals with where authors pay fees, include the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (http://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph) and the International Journal of Health Geographics (http://www.ij-healthgeographics.com/). I have reviewed for the latter (for free) but have mixed feelings about this approach of charging to publish, although it is common in the sciences.
  • In planning the online journals with free submission and publication are in related areas such as transport and include the Journal of Transport and Land Use (https://www.jtlu.org/index.php/jtlu).
Other groups provide research summaries. Design for Health’s own research summaries provide accessible summaries of research on various health topics, as of 2007 and 2008: http://www.designforhealth.net/resources/researchsummaries.html. There are others that I will highlight in upcoming blogs.
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