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   Abstract
  Introduction
  Methods
  Results
  Discussion
  Conclusion
  Acknowledgments
   References
   Article Tables
 

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  Table of Contents    
ARTICLE  
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 57  |  Page : 83-85
Multi-center study of noise in patients from hospitals in Spain: A questionnaire survey

1 Department of Nursing and Physiotherapy, University College of Health Sciences, University of León (Ponferrada Campus), León, Spain
2 Department of Nursing, University College of Nursing and Physiotherapy, University of Salamanca, Spain
3 Invited Professor- Master of Nursing Management, UNE (National University of Distance Education), Spain
4 Old People´S Hospital, Flores del Sil, Ponferrada, León, Spain

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Date of Web Publication18-Apr-2012
 
  Abstract 

To identify the most annoying noises in the hospital environment. One hundred and ninety-three patients took part in the study. A questionnaire collected the perceptions of patients from four hospitals in Spain, with three distinct units. The most annoying noises were the repetitive ones and the most unbearable source was the people who talk loudly. The daily hours were the noisiest and the most annoying, especially when patients wanted to rest and indicated that noise was annoying for them to get to sleep. Our results demonstrate how sensitive patients are toward noise in Spain. We also suggest some strategies to reduce the noise and the harmful physiological effects of increased sound levels in order to improve the quality of life in a healthcare environment.

Keywords: Hospital, noise, patients, perception, questionnaire

How to cite this article:
Marqués P, Calvo D, Mompart MP, Arias N, Quiroga E. Multi-center study of noise in patients from hospitals in Spain: A questionnaire survey. Noise Health 2012;14:83-5

How to cite this URL:
Marqués P, Calvo D, Mompart MP, Arias N, Quiroga E. Multi-center study of noise in patients from hospitals in Spain: A questionnaire survey. Noise Health [serial online] 2012 [cited 2018 Dec 17];14:83-5. Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2012/14/57/83/95136

  Introduction Top


Noise is an undesirable sound and acoustic pollution with auditory and extra auditory effects. Vulnerability to sound might be increased in persons with, among others, lack of sleep, stress and anxiety.

Patient's perception of noise in the acute care hospital may be of importance to patient outcomes and satisfaction with their hospital experience, and deserves careful attention.

The first study that has been performed in this field is dated in 1948, when McBride [1] indicated that hospital noise could be reduced. In the present study, we evaluated the patient's perception of noise in hospitals in Spain with the aims of identifying the type of noises that are perceived as the most annoying. We also suggest some strategies to reduce the noise and the harmful physiological effects of increased sound levels, as the environment at hospitals should be calm in order to allow patients to recover.


  Methods Top


Design

The present study was a multi-center study that included the following hospitals located in different regions of Spain: University of the Princess Hospital (540 beds, high complexity, with university component, Madrid), El Bierzo Hospital (340 beds, medium complexity, Ponferrada), León Hospital (850 beds, high complexity, León) and University of Salamanca Hospital and Clinic (700 beds, high complexity, with university component, Salamanca). Three relevant assistance units of intense activity were chosen: Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Surgery Unit and Paediatric Unit.

Procedure

In order to evaluate the patient's perception of noise, a questionnaire was designed, comprising dichotomised questions and multiple choice questions and also including a small group of open questions that allow the persons interviewed to express themselves freely.

Participants were given the questionnaire to fill out on their own. Each person had 2 days to complete the questionnaire.

Participants

A total of 193 patients responded to the questionnaire (University of the Princess Hospital: 58; El Bierzo Hospital: 36; León Hospital: 54; University of Salamanca Hospital and Clinic: 45).

The group of patients that completed the questionnaire was comprised by students, housewives and retired workers (64.4%), with basic education (65%), living in cities (63.2%) and without auditory problems (83.4%), which described the environmental noise they usually perceive in their normal lifestyle (at home, at school, etc.) as medium or low, and that sleep well.


  Results Top


The characteristics of noise disturbances found in our study are illustrated in [Table 1].
Table 1: Patient's perceptions of noise and characteristics of noise disturbances

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  Discussion Top


[Table 1] shows that, in general, noise is disturbing when trying to get to sleep. 13.4% of the participants considered noise to be unbearable at the hospital. It is important to note that the daily hours were the noisiest and the most annoying, especially when patients wanted to rest. It is also relevant that the type of noises that are most annoying for patients were not the highest but the repetitive ones and the noise made by people who talk loudly. An anecdotal result from the open-ended questions was that the noise from the wheels of the medication trolleys and those from building works, even at night time, were very annoying.

In all the scientific literature reviewed, we only found one multi-center study that was carried out in three children's hospitals in Nigeria. [2] High noise levels were recorded (in the game room area, the school and some rooms with not very seriously ill patients), mainly from staff conversations and the use of hospital equipment.

Our results in hospitals in Spain are in concordance with the ones of these authors as well as with the previous of Statham, [3] which found that in a hospital located in London, the chief noise was being made by the voices of fellow patients or staff, particularly at night and in the early morning, and with the report of Berlet and Binet, [4] which observed that the noise that people make and noise from ventilation and alarm systems altered sleep.

A recent investigation performed in Brazil found that the sound level was considerably above the recommended maximum. Thus, in the neonatal ICU, the noise level was caused mainly by staff talk, in the emergency room reception area because of the continuous flow of people, while in ICU the noise was because of staff conversations and equipment with sound alarms. [5]

Noise is a pollutant factor of our environment, and a serious problem exists in hospitals throughout the world. High levels of noise were also detected in an Indian Hospital [6] and in neonatal ICUs in the US. [7]

In view of our findings, we suggest that there is a need for implementing strategies at Spanish hospitals regarding the architectural and instrumental design as well as addressing the levels of habit in order to reduce noise pollution.

Probably, some of these strategies would not even be costly, as it could be getting close to pass on information instead of shouting or using earplugs. An increased awareness of the staff is also recommended in order to decrease the sound levels, with interventions such as the prompt silencing of alarms. Other strategies can be applied to architectural engineering and instrumental design, as could also be the use of sound-absorbing materials in the hospital's physical structure.

The hospital organization could also work in controlling unnecessary noises, such as the excess number of visitors, the background sounds of televisions (even when not being watched), ringing phones, etc. On the other hand, at night time, noise sources must be totally controlled; except very few exceptions, noises coming from drills, at night, in areas close to the patient's room are unacceptable.

Our results demonstrate how sensitive patients are toward noise. Noise influences the sleeping patterns of people. Sleeping disorders were documented in nurses [8] and parents that stay overnight with their children in the hospital. [9] The present study demonstrated the same effects in patients.


  Conclusion Top


The environment at hospitals should be calm in order to allow patients to recover. Noise is a pollutant factor of our environment, and a serious problem exists in hospitals throughout the world. Our results demonstrate how sensitive patients are toward noise at hospitals in Spain. We also suggest some strategies to reduce the noise and the harmful physiological effects of increased sound levels in order to improve the quality of life in a healthcare environment.


  Acknowledgments Top


The authors wish to acknowledge all the management and professional staff members of El Bierzo Hospital, University of Salamanca Hospital and Clinic, León Hospital and University of the Princess Hospital (Madrid) and all the personnel that collaborated on this study.

 
  References Top

1.McBride K. Hospital noise can be reduced. Am J Nurs 1948;48:774.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Omokhodion FO, Sridhar MK. Noises levels in the hospital environment in Ibadan. Afr J Med Med Sci 2003;32:139-42.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Statham C. Noise and the patient in hospital: A personal investigation. Br Med J 1959;2:1247-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Berlet MH, Binet F. Environment and quality of sleep in the hospital milieu. Soins 1979;24:35-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Otenio MH, Cremer E, Claro EM. Noise level in a 222 bed hospital in the 18 th health region-PR. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol 2007;73:245-50.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Vinodhkumaradithyaa A, Srinivasan M, Ananthalakshmi I, Kumar DP, Jeba Rajasekhar RV, Daniel T, et al. Noise levels in a tertiary care hospital. Noise Health 2008;10:11-3.  Back to cited text no. 6
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
7.Darcy AE, Hancock LE, Ware EJ. A descriptive study of noise in the neonatal intensive care unit. Ambient levels and perceptions of contributing factors. Adv Neonatal Care 2008;8:165-75.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Marqués Sánchez P, Calle Pardo AP, Sánchez DC, Gelado YN, García PM. Nurses' perception of noise levels in hospitals in Spain. J Nurs Adm 2008;38:220-2.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Lee SY, Lee KA, Rankin SH, Weiss SJ, Alkon A. Sleep disturbance, fatigue, and stress among Chinese-American parents with ICU hospitalized infants. Issues Ment Health Nurs 2007;28:593-605.  Back to cited text no. 9
    

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Correspondence Address:
Pilar Marqués
Department of Nursing and Physiotherapy, University College of Health Sciences, University of León (Ponferrada Campus)
Spain
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.95136

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    Tables

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Noise in hospitals - State of knowledge about the strain on patients and staff [Lärm im krankenhaus: Kenntnisstand zur belastung von patienten und personal]
Notbohm, G.
Larmbekampfung. 2012; 7(6): 263-277
[Pubmed]



 

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