Rana Sagha Zadeh
Rana Sagha Zadeh
Associate Professor
Human Centered Design

2425 MVR Hall


Rana Sagha Zadeh, M.Arch., Ph.D., Associate AIA, LEED AP, EDAC, is an associate professor and the co-director and co-founder of the Health Design Innovations Lab (HDIL, affiliated with the Institute for Healthy Futures) in the Department of Design & Environmental Analysis at Cornell University and a  Visting Associate Professor,at the Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia.

Dr. Zadeh’s team received the Innovation Incubator Award and the Novel Technology Award from the Clinical and Translational Science Center and Weill Cornell Medical College. She also received the Center for Health Design’s 2012-13 New Investigator Award for her high-quality research in evidence-based healthcare  design and the 2013 Architectural Research Centers Consortium's King Medal for innovation, integrity, and scholarship in environmental design research.

Dr. Zadeh specializes in evidence-based and human-centered healthcare design. Zadeh’s work focuses on improving quality-of-life and management of symptoms for individuals who experience chronic, advanced or life-limiting illness, and optimizing working environments and caring experience for their formal and informal caregivers.

Zadeh’s lab develops translational solutions to bring best evidence to practice using a systems approach combining available capacities in design, engineering, psychology, business and medicine and in partnership with communities. These include environmental, technological, or educational guidelines and solutions to support safety, quality of life, and dignity. Some examples of work are:

  • Empowering community dwelling older adults with Dementia and their caregivers when it comes to their medication management.
  • Healthy aging
  • Palliative and supportive care by environmental design
  • Sleep and circadian rhythms disturbances, effective evidence-based educational programs during times of social/physical distancing and COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Occupant sensing technologies for homes and institutional environments to support health, safety and sustainability
  • Medication compliance in individuals with dementia by design and engineering
  • Health and healthcare access for at risk populations and marginalized populations
  • Workplace health and performance optimization
  • Economic evaluation of design and engineering solutions to optimize medical workplaces

Find HDIL's recent guidebook on design for end-of-life care settings: https://www.fgiguidelines.org/beyond-fundamentals/beyond-fundamentals-library/

Read about the HDIL: http://hdil.human.cornell.edu/

Combining innovative and evidence-based strategies we can improve the patient and caregiver experience in healthcare if we work in multidisciplinary teams and partner with the stakeholders involved. Learning from the users’ needs and their competencies we can design optimized places products and processes that are supportive of safety, quality of life, control, and dignity of patients and caregivers. My team conducts qualitative and quantitative studies, works with the community representatives and policy makers to translate best evidence into feasible effective and affordable solutions that change living and caring environments for the better.

Intended to best prepare students for their future careers and meet the existing gaps in expertise and competencies mentioned above, my teaching goal is to create a learning environment that focuses on the following four pedagogical dimensions: multidisciplinary communication, applied in real-world healthcare contexts, concentration on innovative design thinking, and promotion of an inclusive, tolerant, and diverse climate.

1. Multidisciplinary

Communication and collaboration across disciplines is an essential skill when working as a professional in industry, academia, or government. Therefore, my classes emphasize the development and improvement of multidisciplinary dialogue among those involved in design, engineering, medicine, and business. All of my classes enroll a diverse body of students from across campus, with interests in topics such as premedical studies, biology, public health, landscape architecture, architecture, interior design, urban and regional planning, environmental psychology, facility management, policy, business administration, real estate and finance, hospitality, engineering and information science.

2. Applied

The use of real-life projects presented by clients and community members creates a learning laboratory with a two-way information exchange between the students and community partners and creates intrinsic motivation for students. Real-life projects help extend personal learning into community engagement and social justice. Along with real-life projects comes unpredictability. My students and I learn to embrace unexpected experiences and build interpersonal and professional competencies. We improve our awareness about the sophistication and sensitivity of research in human environments, especially in healthcare, and describe ways to engage stakeholders in fostering positive change. Through these experiences, students practice critical thinking about the ambiguity of real-world projects, observe and participate in solving existing issues, gain a sense of the multidimensional aspects of a single project, and discover how one project can affect various stakeholders differently.

3. Innovative

Students practice combining innovation- and evidence-based approaches to design. They tap into their existing skills and knowledge to practice critical thinking, rehearse verbal and visual communication, and apply basic concepts of design thinking, including human-centered and user-experience design. They learn to define project visions and goals, identify system requirements, find evidence-based strategies, and develop context diagrams and concept maps. In hands-on activities and ideation exercises, students build creative confidence and express ideas by creating sketches and building simple models with cardboard and Play-Doh. Finally, they learn to examine the feasibility of the various design ideas and test the agreement between the solutions and the original project goals.

4. Inclusive, Tolerant, and Diverse

In my classes and in work with community partners, we practice respect of others, embracing diversity, empathy, effective teamwork, public speaking, team leadership, personal and group reflection, networking, multidisciplinary collaboration, dealing with ambiguity and conflict, and respectful communication. Over the past two years, I have employed various rubrics and teaching aids for each of these goals and given several lectures on these topics.

DEA 6550: Innovations in Healthcare Research & Design

DEA4500: Policy Meets Design: High-Impact Facilities of the 21st Century

DEA 3550: Planning and Managing the Workplace: Evidence-Based Design and the Organizational Ecology

Peer-Reviewed Publications Published or in Press

1. Sagha Zadeh, R., Owora, A. H., Jiang, N., & Pham, Y. (In Press). Sociodemographic and Job Characteristics Influence Environmental Strategies Used to Manage Workplace Sleepiness. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

2. Sagha Zadeh, R., Capezuti, E., Eshelman, P., Woody, N., Tiffany, J., & Krieger, A. (2018).Non-pharmacological solutions to sleep and circadian rhythm disruption: Voiced bedside experiences of hospice and end-of-life staff caregivers. BMC Palliative Care, 17(1), 131. doi: 10.1186/s12904-018-0385-2 (Impact Factor 2.48)

3. Sagha Zadeh, R., & Eshelman, P. (In press). "Palliative design" meets "palliative medicine": A strategic and judicious approach to the design, construction, and operation of healthcare facilities to improve quality of life and minimize suffering for patients, their families, and their caregivers. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal. (Impact Factor 1.34)

4. Javani, Z., Madani, R., Hojat, I., & Sagha Zadeh, R. (In Press). The Relationship between Daylight and Happiness for Women in Residential Districts of Isfahan, Iran. Environmental Quality Management.

5. Capezuti, E., Sagha Zadeh, R., Pain, K., Basara, A., Jiang, N. Z., & Krieger, A. C. (2018). A systematic review of non-pharmacological interventions to improve nighttime sleep among residents of long-term care settings. BMC Geriatrics, 18(1), 143. doi: 10.1186/s12877-018-0794-3

6. Capezuti, E., Sagha Zadeh, R., Woody, N., Basara, A., & Krieger, A. C. (2018). An integrative review of non-pharmacological interventions to improve sleep among adults with advanced serious illness. Journal of Palliative Medicine , 21(5), 700–717. (Impact Factor 2.23)

7. Sagha Zadeh, R., Eshelman, P., Setla, J., Krieger, A., Hon, E., & Kennedy, L. (2017). Environmental design for end-of-life care: An integrative review on improving quality of life and managing symptoms for patients in institutional settings. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. doi:10.1016/.2017.09.011 (Impact Factor 3.28)

8. Sagha Zadeh, R., Eshelman, P., Setla, J., & Sadatsafavi, H. (2017). Strategies to improve quality of life at the end of life: interdisciplinary team perspectives. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. [Epub ahead of print] doi:10.1177/1049909117711997 (Impact Factor 1.28)

9. Sagha Zadeh, R., Shepley, M., Owora, A., Waggener, L., Chung, S., & Donnenbaum, M. (2018).The Importance of Specific Workplace Environment Characteristics for Maximum Health and Performance: Healthcare Workers' Perspective. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2018:60(5):245-252. (Impact Factor 1.86)

10. Sagha Zadeh, R., Shepley M. Sadatsafavi, H., & Krieger, A. (2017). Improve safety by design in healthcare work environments. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal. (Impact Factor 1.34)

11. Neo J. R., & Sagha-Zadeh, R. (2017). The influence of spatial configuration on the frequency of use of hand sanitizing stations in health care environments. American Journal of Infection Control, 45(6), 615-619. (Impact Factor 2.45)

12. Neo, J. R., Sagha Zadeh, R., Vielemeyer, O., & Franklin, E. (2016). Evidence-based practices to increase hand hygiene compliance in health care facilities: An integrated review. American Journal of Infection Control, 44(6), 691-704. doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2015.11.034 (Impact Factor 2.45)

13. Sagha Zadeh, R., Xian, X., & Shepley, M. M. (2016) Sustainable healthcare design: Existing challenges and future directions for an environmental, economic, and social approach to sustainability. Facilities, 34(5/6). doi:10.1108/F-09-2013-0067 (Impact Factor NA, CiteScore 1.06)

14. Sagha Zadeh, R., Sadatsafavi, H., & Xue, R. (2015). Evidence-based and value-based decision making about healthcare design: an economic evaluation of the safety and quality outcomes. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 8(4), 58-76. doi:10.1177/1937586715586393 (Impact Factor 1.34)

15. Sadatsafavi, H., Niknejad, B., Sagha Zadeh, R., & Sadatsafavi, M. (2016). Do cost savings from reductions in nosocomial infections justify additional costs of single-bed rooms in intensive care units? A simulation case study. Journal of Critical Care, 31(1), 194-200. doi:10.1016/j.jcrc.2015.10.010 (Impact Factor 2.65)

16. Sagha Zadeh, R., Shepley, M. M., Williams, G., & Chung, S. S. E. (2014). The impact of windows and daylight on acute-care nurs¬es’ physiological, psychological, and behavioral health. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 7(4), 36-62. (Impact Factor 1.34)

17. Sagha Zadeh, R., Shepley, M.M., Waggener, L., & Kennedy, L. (2013). Workplace design: Design characteristics of healthcare environments: The nurses’ perspective. World Health Design, 80-85. (Impact Factor NA)

18. Sagha Zadeh, R., Shepley, M.M., & Waggener, L. T. (2012). Rethinking efficiency in acute care nursing units: Analyzing nursing unit layouts for improved spatial flow. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 6(1), 39-65. (Impact Factor 1.34)

19. Nanda, U., Eisen, S., Sagha Zadeh, R., & Owen, D. (2010). Effect of visual art on patient anxiety and agitation in a mental health facility and implications for the business case. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 18(5), 386-393. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2850.2010.01682.x (Impact Factor 1.13)

20. Shepley, M., Gerbi, R., Watson, A., Imgrund, S., & Sagha Zadeh, R. (2011). The impact of daylight and views on patients and staff. HERD: Health Environments Design & Research, 5(2), 46-60. (Impact Factor 1.34)

Book (online) and Book Chapter

1. Eshelman, P., Sagha Zadeh, R., Setla, J., & Krieger, A. (2017). Designing End-of-Life Care Setting to Enhance Quality of Life: A Cornell University Report. Washington, DC: Facility Guidelines Institute. https://www.fgiguidelines.org/resource/designing-end-life-care-settings-enhance-quality-life/ (Online book, Number of downloads: 142 between April and Sept 2018, including 26 States and 17 countries)

2. Sagha Zadeh, R. (In press for 2020 publication). Environmental approaches to support aging friendly care. Boltz, M., Capezuti, E., Zwicker, D., & Fulmer, T. (Eds.). Evidence-Based Geriatric Nursing Protocols for Best Practice, 6th ed. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Industry Reports

1. Sagha Zadeh, R. (2019, June). Designing the Patient and Family Experience of Palliative Care in Tompkins and Cortland Counties: A Multidisciplinary Systems Approach. Submitted to Tompkins and Cortland County network of providers .

2. Sagha Zadeh, R. (2018, May). Enhancing patient safety in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit through system redesign. Submitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

3. Sagha Zadeh, R. (2017, May). Evidence-based palliative care design. Submitted to Cayuga Medical Center.

4. Eshelman, P., Sagha Zadeh, R., Setla, J., & Krieger, A. (2015, January 20). Designing end-of-life care setting to enhance quality of life: Informing the conversation among designers, users, and stake holders. Submitted to Hospice of Central New York, Hospicare of Tompkins County, Francis House End of Life Home, and Cayuga Medical Center’s Palliative Care Program.

5. Shepley, M., & Sagha Zadeh, R. (2015, May 15). Designing the future neurological Intensive care unit at the New York Presbyterian Hospital: A partnership between Human Ecology and Weill Cornell Medical College. Submitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital.

6. Sagha Zadeh, R., & Gilmore, R. (2013, May 15). Emergency department of the future, a guideline addressing health, safety, and efficiency. Submitted to HOAG Healthcare and Jacobs Engineering.

7. Sagha Zadeh, R., & Gilmore, R. (2014, May 15). Transforming patient experience for Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Submitted to CAMA Design and Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

8. Sagha Zadeh, R. (2015, January 5). Translational guide for workplace design. Submitted to Herman Miller Healthcare and HKS Architects.

Zadeh is a founding member of the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design. Zadeh served as a member of the Center for Health Design’s Research Coalition, and a grant reviewer for the New Investigator Award for 7 years, and served on the CHD’s Behavioral Health, and volunteer on CHD’s the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality’s project to create a risk assessment tool for patient safety. Zadeh is an associate member of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and a member and former president of a student chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. Zadeh’s professional activities go beyond research and volunteerism and has involved service learning projects for community members including Hospicare of Tompkins County, End –of-Life Care Residence (2013- current), New York Presbyterian Hospital (Spring 2015,16,18), Brigham & Women’s Hospital and CAMA Inc. (spring 2014), Cayuga Medical Center (Fall 2013,Spring 2014,Spring 2017) and Hoag Healthcare (Spring 2013).

2012, Ph.D., Architecture, Health Systems & Design, Texas A&M Univ., College Station

2005, M.Arch. , Architecture, Azad Univ., Tehran, Iran

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