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Kgh Observation

In: Business and Management

Submitted By sunshinestate
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Synopsis: At 3:50pm on Saturday October 20, 2012, I traveled to the main lobby of the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) in Kingston, Ontario, located at 76 Stuart Street, to conduct observational research by examining and recording consumer behavior in a natural setting. This report includes a detailed description of the people and behaviors I witnessed, in addition to inferences that I made based on my observations.

What time and day of the week was I there? How did this affect my observations?
The time and day that I chose to conduct my observation had a number of effects on the results. First, there were likely more hospital visits occurring on Saturday than there would have been if I had conducted my observation on a weekday when most people are at school or work. Second, I can imagine that the lobby was less busy in the afternoon than at noon, yet busier than it would be if I had conducted the observation early in the morning or late at night. Third, I did not see anyone in the lobby consuming any food items and instead, observed a number of people drinking coffee or other warm beverages. I assume that I would have seen more people eating if I had visited the lobby at breakfast or lunchtime. The afternoon is also a common time for people to have a coffee to offset afternoon doldrums. Last, I noticed that the majority of people in the lobby were wearing warm, casual outfits, which may have differed if I had conducted my observation earlier in the day when it was warmer outside or on a weekday when more visitors would have been dressed in work attire.
How many people are there over the course of the observation?

Upon arrival at the Kingston General Hospital, the first record I made was of the number of people in the main lobby. I counted five people sitting in the waiting chairs, two people standing in the entrance, one person taking out money at the debit machine, and three people standing near the entrance to the Connell hallway. Over the course of the 45-minute observation, the number of people in the lobby remained fairly constant over time. As individuals and groups came and left, more seemed to filter in to take their place. At one point, I took five minutes to count the number of people exiting and entering the waiting room and I found that these numbers seemed to be somewhat balanced, with four people entering the hospital and six exiting between 3:55pm and 4:00pm. I did notice, however, that more people walked through the lobby and exited the hospital in between 4:00pm and 4:05pm than at any other time during the observation (11 people), which may have been due to friends and family establishing a pre-set time on the hour to leave the hospital. Furthermore, I found that the majority of people in the main lobby were walking through to either exit the hospital or to go to another area of the hospital. In total, I counted approximately 46 people walk through the lobby over the course of the observation, while only eighteen people sat down on chairs and spent more than five minutes in the waiting area.
What do the people I observed look like?
I observed a very diverse demographic, ranging from two young babies who appeared to be only a few months old, to seniors who likely surpassed the 70-80 year old age bracket. The majority of people who entered and exited the waiting room appeared to fit in the 30-50 age bracket, and I observed very few people in the 5-15 age group. Most of the people I observed wore comfortable, casual, warm clothing, such as jeans and sweatshirts or cardigans with a light coat overtop. It is easy to assume that this is not only due to the colder weather, but also due to the fact that most people prefer to be comfortable while spending time in a hospital room. The physical conditions of the people I observed varied quite substantially, ranging from adults of approximately 25-40 years of age who appeared to be in average condition to a few elderly women in wheelchairs, unable to walk without assistance. I concluded that the majority of the people I observed in the waiting chairs were visitors of patients; however, I did assume that there was a good possibility that the four elderly women I saw in wheelchairs could quite possibly have been patients themselves.
Groups versus Individuals
The people who entered the lobby were typically doing one of two things: waiting either in the chairs or standing near the entrance, or walking directly through the lobby to exit the building or to get to another area of the hospital. There was no activity taking place at the information desk, as no attendant was present and little to none activity taking place at the Tim Hortons as it appeared to be closed. I noticed that most of the people who sat down in the waiting room appeared to be either by themselves or in a group of two, while the vast majority of people who walked directly through the main lobby were in groups of two to four people, as opposed to alone and appeared to be family members. I came to the conclusion that the people sitting or standing alone in the lobby were likely waiting for rides home from the hospital, whereas the groups entering and exiting the hospital lobby were probably families or friends who arrived and left together via the same mode of transportation, thus eliminating the need to wait in the lobby. I also assumed that there were more groups than individuals visiting the hospital because Saturday is a day in which children do not have school and most adults have time off work.
The pairs that I did see sitting in the chairs were based on varying relationships: a mother and her teenage daughter with a young baby, an elderly lady with a caretaker, an elderly lady with a son, and two couples who appeared to be in their early-mid thirties. I was easily able to make inferences about these relationships and how close they were based on their interactions. For example, there was a teenage girl who looked to be approximately sixteen years of age sitting across from me with a young baby in her arms, and a lady who I assumed to be her mother sitting two seats down from her. Their similar physical appearances led me to believe that they were related and that this was her mother; however, they did not appear close based on their interactions. They spent approximately eighteen minutes waiting in the chairs, yet only said countable words to each other and showed no signs of affection. They may have been in an argument as I found it strange that the mother was sitting two seats down from her daughter instead of directly next to her. Contrary to this, the middle-aged man sitting next to his elderly mother in a wheel chair appeared to have a much closer relationship. He rested his hand on her shoulder in an affectionate way, took off his coat and placed it over her shoulders when she mentioned that she was cold, and talked with her for most of their wait. I also noticed that there was a difference in the behavior between those that were by themselves and those with another person. I found that the individuals waiting by themselves got up out of their chairs and looked out the window or walked around the lobby more often than those in pairs. Just like any person sitting alone and waiting, I can imagine that this was because they were feeling bored or anxious. For the most part, those who sat in pairs remained in the chairs throughout their wait and chatted quietly with one another.
Other Interesting Observations
I found it quite surprising that most of the people sitting in chairs waiting were not engaged in much in the way of entertainment, ranging from cellphones and Ipods to magazines or books. They sat and looked off into the distance, got up and strolled through the lobby, or talked in a group of two or three. There were only three exceptions to this: a female approximately the same age as me who was typing on her cellphone while waiting in the entrance, a women who appeared to be in her mid-thirties reading an US Weekly magazine, and another middle-aged women jotting down something in what looked like a day journal. Whenever I find myself in a situation in which I am forced to wait, I will typically pull out my Blackberry and browse through Twitter to avoid boredom! With regards to conducting the observation, I found it to be more difficult than I had originally thought to take notes at the same time as observing everyone in the main lobby, without appearing creepy in front of the people I was observing.

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