Design Research for Health and Wellbeing

Design Research for Health and Wellbeing (DRHW) brings together a transdisciplinary network where researchers, creative practitioners, healthcare workers and service users can collaborate to devise and implement innovations in the development and delivery of environments, health facilities, products and services that foster the wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Banner: Printing Your Pain: 3D representations of pain profiles, Nick Dulake & Ian Gwilt 2017


Our Focus

Design and creative practice-based research methods will be used to help care providers and care users better understand and communicate the lived experience of health-care. These methods will be positioned around a user-centred, participatory design methodology.

Areas where design/co-design practice and research can have an impact in the health and wellbeing sector include:

  • developing stakeholder engagement in healthcare issues from patients to healthcare professionals (inclusive design activities);
  • helping to formulate care strategies and better service provision (co-design/ participatory workshops);
  • improving medical practices and procedures (design prototyping and testing); and
  • improving knowledge mobilisation and wellbeing strategies across the sector and into the community (communication design materials, creative interventions).

Higher Degree by Research Candidates

Paula Gillespie-Fotheringham:  Does a brief three session creative therapy intervention elevate postnatal depression PND symptomatology.

Aaron Harvey: Reader response theory in visual communication: designing for culturally diverse learners.

Bridgette Minuzzo: Real enough? How artistic representations of landscape elements may evoke biophillic impulses.

Darren Taljaard:  Harnessing graphic design to assist university students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, to read, clarify and comprehend digital texts

Mission Statement

The inclusion of design and design researchers in interdisciplinary healthcare projects allows for the rapid development and prototyping of objects, environments, systems & services, and digital technologies that can respond to evolving care issues. These issues might include:

-       the management of non-communicable diseases;

-       preventative care through healthy living choices;

-       rethinking the use of antibiotics;

-       and responding to an aging community by creating more agile healthcare services for future healthcare provision.

‘Design’, used within this context, integrates all creative practice within the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences including (but not limited to): fine art, architecture and illustration. The term also includes the design disciplines, comprising: product design, communication, interior design, animation and digital media design.

At this time, we are planning to create subthemes which reflect the reconstituted research agenda and direction of the concentration. These subthemes will be framed around notions of:

  • the person, the family, the community, service providers, industry
  • language, communication, culture,
  • health and wellbeing services and systems
  • objects, artefacts, technology, space, environments
  • engagement, interaction, participation

Contributions to the research can be made in the following areas: Built Environment, Design and Health, Health and Law, Health Economics, Health Service Systems, Health Technology, Public Health, Social Engagement, Teaching/Research Nexus.


Design Clinic

The Design Clinic is an applied project of the Design Research for Health and Wellbeing network. The Clinic will use Match Studio resources to facilitate design for health practice-based, participatory design research projects. The Design Clinic employs the existing UniSA ‘Clinic’ model which is currently being used in the areas of health, law and psychology ( As with the other Clinics, students will work in a supervised environment to apply design theory and practical skills to a professional setting as some of their final preparations before entering their professions full-time.  The Design clinic will also support existing and new research activities of UniSA academic staff and the broader professional community.

How It Works

Located in a public facing healthcare setting, (hospital clinic or care facility), The Design Clinic will collect health and wellbeing issues, suggestions and ideas from both service users and healthcare providers. From this initial point of contact identified health related problems will be workshopped with a range of stakeholder representatives to develop designed product/service responses.  These activities will be communicated back to the broader community via The Design Clinic space and team members, through inclusive consultation and communication/knowledge mobilisation processes. It is envisioned that a lively interactive space will be created (exhibition materials, healthcare related artefacts, interactive activities, digital content etc.) to generate conversation and ideas between the designers and healthcare community. The Design Clinic is supported by the Match Studio interdisciplinary research and workplace integrated learning facility.