Analysis of objects in the environment of hospitalized patients using a multitrait artifact classification system



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The functional nature of objects in the environment of hospitalized quadriplegics and paraplegics was examined in an observational study. Using two classification systems, objects which were displayed and used by 14 male patients were rated for structural composition, information loading, and dynamic functioning. Significant differences in how patient groups used objects were discovered with quadriplegics using fewer objects directed at maintaining or manipulating the physical environment and more objects directed at maintaining or manipulating themselves than paraplegics. Strong relationships were observed between various patient performance measures including length of stay-in the hospital and the presence of objects with verbal or pictorial information on them. Analysis of the occurrence of objects unique to individual subjects revealed that a large proportion of the overall environment was personalized. The average patient, however, did not have a large number of objects which were unique to himself, and most environmental transactions occurred with objects common to all subjects. Using data collected while objects were in use, a cluster analysis was performed which grouped objects according to functional characteristics, suggesting the possibility of an empirical environmental taxonomy.