Designing to distract: Can interactive technologies reduce visitor anxiety in a children's hospital setting?

B Lim, Yvonne Rogers, N Sebire
in ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, Journal article


© 2019 Association for Computing Machinery. Many public buildings are entered through reception areas, intended for visitors to sit and wait in to be met. A concern is how to make visitors feel welcome while in transit. Hospitals, medical centres and other healthcare organisations are a special case where the challenge is to enable patients and families feel less anxious when waiting. One approach has been to design for distraction - where displays, surfaces, and interactive installations are created to draw visitor's attention away from their immediate thoughts. However, little is known as to how people respond to such interventions. We present the findings of an ethnographic study that examined the social and psychological effects of using distraction as a design principle in a children's hospital reception area. We discuss the challenges of designing to distract, in relation to how it can be combined with other architectural and HCI ones, when developing new human-building interfaces.