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Acoustic Impact in Healthcare

In healthcare, many studies were conducted on noise impact on patients.

  1. A study in 2010 on noise impact on patient sleeplessness in hospitals found that noise is significantly higher in hospital wards than the recommendations of the WHO, and this deeply affected the sleep patterns of patients. (Yoder JC, Staisiunas PG, Meltzer DO, Knutson KL, Arora VM. Noise and Sleep Among Adult Medical Inpatients: Far From a Quiet Night. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(1):68–70. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.603.)

  2. A study found that noise can greatly affect the health and safety of the patients in maternity wards and negatively impact the healing process for new mothers and their newborns. (Adatia, S., Law, S. & Haggerty, J. Room for improvement: noise on a maternity ward. BMC Health Serv Res 14, 604 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-014-0604-3.)

  3. A review study cited several others showing that:
  • a. excessive noise in hospitals reduces the intelligibility of speech and impairs communication, causing annoyance, irritation, and fatigue and reducing the quality and safety of healthcare.

  • b. Noise has been implicated in the development of intensive care psychosis, hospitalisation induced stress, increased pain sensitivity, high blood pressure, and poor mental health.

  • c. Hospital noise disrupts sleep; machine sounds in particular have a greater negative effect on arousal than human voices. Post-hospitalisation recovery is also compromised.

  • d. Coronary care patients treated during noisy periods had a significantly higher incidence of rehospitalisation than those treated during quieter periods.

  • e. For hospital staff, high noise levels can impact negatively on communication, performance, wellbeing, and caring behaviour, and can contribute to burnout.

  • f. Patients report being ill equipped and ill prepared to deal with hospital noise.

  • g. Noise can have a cumulative effect: when hospitalised for several nights, patients can feel trapped in a stress inducing soundscape, leading to requests for premature discharge and heightened risk of poor recovery and readmission.

Rafferty, A. M.; Carlyle; A. Xyrichis, A.; John Wynne, J.; Mackrill, J. 2018. Noise pollution in hospitals Excessive noise is damaging for both patients and staff in theBMJ. (Published 19 November 2018) 363:k4808 doi: 10.1136/bmj.k4808

4. The World Health Organization recognizes that road traffic and air traffic noise are environmental stressor having direct impact on the increase of hypertension and heart attacks. (Wolfgang Babisch and Rokho Kim. 2011. Environmental noise and cardiovascular disease in Burden of disease from environmental noise: Quantification of healthy life years lost in Europe. WHO Regional Office of Europe. ISBN: 978 92 890 0229 5)

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