One of the most used online tools from The Center for Health Design’s website is the Knowledge Repository (KR), a searchable, user-friendly library of healthcare design resources. The KR grew out of frequent requests our research team would receive asking for help in finding credible research citations on a variety of topics. With each request, a member of our team would search our internal database of studies and provide a list of appropriate journal citations. By partnering with the American Institute of Architects Academy of Architecture for Health, Facility Guidelines Institute, and the American Society of Healthcare Engineers, we were able to build a free, searchable, online database and make it available to all.

Over the years, through feedback from our partners and users, we’ve added features and resources that continue to make this repository more valuable and research more accessible. Some of those features include: a personal online filing cabinet to save relevant studies for future quick reference; clickable link that connects references to their original source links; how-to video tutorials that help users quickly learn to navigate and get the most out of their searches; links to the “Research Matters” blog series that helps readers identify why a specific research study has relevance to our industry; and key point summaries (KPS) which distill a complex research study into a more quickly digestible synopsis.

Two new and more visual features have been added in the last year: slidecasts, which are short videos of five minutes or less focusing on what we can learn from a particular study and why the study matters, and a feature called “The Lede,” which distills a study into the who, what, when, where, why, and how with “nutshell paragraph” or “nutgraph” features outlining the essential facts of the research. The addition of these tools is useful for those who are visual learners or for someone who might want to pick up a few interesting facts in a short amount of time.

Currently, the KP houses close to 5,300 research citations, with The Center’s research team regularly adding new references. To help users find what they need quickly, citations can be searched using keywords or sorted by paper type, design category, outcome category, and/or year published.

Nearly 850 of these citations have been reviewed by a member of The Center’s research team, along with support from Research Design Connections, a design research publication and website, and members of the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design. They also have a corresponding KPS, which outlines the objectives of the research as well as the methodology and findings. If the KPS seems relevant, readers can then click on the source link to find the study’s original source.

Every other month our research team sends an email called “The Snap,” which looks at hot-topic research trends and details all the newest entries added to the KR over the previous two months with links to the summaries/abstracts. To sign up for a free account and receive these emails, visit The Center’s website (

It may feel daunting at first to find relevant research studies that can impact your decision-making, but The Center is committed to creating tools and resources that not only make research easy to find but also make it actionable.

Debra Levin is president and CEO of The Center for Health Design. She can be reached at