Impact of the design of the built environment on people with dementia: An evidence-based review

Gesine Marquardt, Kathrin Bueter, Tom Motzek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: In this review the impact of the design of the built environment on people with dementia in long-term care settings is systematically analyzed and summarized. Architects and designers will be provided with credible evidence on which they can confidently base their design decisions. Researchers will be able to determine which environmental aspects have been well investigated and where there are gaps in the current state of the research. BACKGROUND: A great number of studies have established a relationship between the design of the physical environment of long-term care settings and outcomes of people with dementia. However, the methods employed are heterogeneous and the results are often conflicting. Consequently, the process of integrating the best evidence available into architectural designs may be hindered. METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted reviewing studies that meet certain inclusion criteria. Using an evidence-based approach, the methodical quality of the studies was rated. RESULTS: One hundred sixty-nine studies were found. They were thematically summarized into four main categories: basic design decisions, environmental attributes, ambience, and environmental information. The effectiveness of the interventions on the behavior, cognition, function, well being, social abilities, orientation, and care outcomes on people with dementia was illustrated by matrices. CONCLUSIONS: Results of this review indicate that, with the exception of cognition, specific design interventions are beneficial to the outcomes of people with dementia. Overall, the field of environmental design for people with dementia is well researched in many aspects and only few gaps in knowledge were identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-157
Number of pages31
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Built environment
  • Elderly
  • Evidence-based design
  • Literature review
  • Outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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