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Saturday, 27th January 2007

Sound Control for Improved Outcomes in Healthcare Settings

Sound Control for Improved Outcomes in Healthcare Settings
Source: The Center for Health Design

Hospitals are extremely noisy, and noise levels in most hospitals far exceed recommended guidelines. The high ambient noise levels, as well as peak noise levels in hospitals, have serious impacts on patient and staff outcomes ranging from sleep loss and elevated blood pressure among patients to emotional exhaustion and burnout among staff.

Poorly designed acoustical environments can pose a serious threat to patient confidentiality if private conversations between patients and staff or between staff members can be overheard by unintended listeners. At the same time, a poor acoustical environment impedes effective communication between patients and staff and between staff members by rendering speech and auditory signals less intelligible or detectable.

A well-designed acoustical environment is critical in addressing these problems related to noise and communication of information. This paper discusses ways to effectively reduce noise levels: providing single-patient bedrooms, installing high-performance sound-absorbing acoustical ceiling tiles, and removing or reducing loud noise sources on hospital units.

A large body of research also shows that music therapy is effective in reducing anxiety and distress among patients in many different types of healthcare settings.

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