Creating Healthy Soundscapes to Support Care Providers
TimeWednesday, April 1411:20am - 11:40am EDT
DescriptionHealthy built environments are paramount to the missions of hospitals. Noise in particular is frequently cited as a top complaint and has been linked to patient sleep disruption, lower satisfaction, and physiological reactions. Though the consequences for staff are less well explored, noise has been shown to impact staff stress, burnout, performance, and communication. This may have serious consequences for health and safety, especially in a working environment that is already inherently complex and demanding. This talk will discuss what we know about noise in healthcare settings with a particular focus on care providers; including how sound may impact staff (i.e. performance, workload, stress), how to best characterize noise, and what interventions and remedies exist to improve problematic soundscapes. We will highlight a variety of relevant work in this field, including studies by the Healthcare Acoustics Research Team (HART), an interdisciplinary collaboration of specialists in engineering, architecture, and medicine. For example, one HART study assessed the impact of noise on caregiver communication and perception across 20 units of five different U.S. hospitals. Other HART studies have utilized unsupervised learning techniques to identify intrinsic categories of noise sources perceived to be most disruptive by nurses in multiple pediatric, neonatal, and adult units. Finally, we’ll highlight HART studies that gauged the perceived effectiveness of staff-led, targeted noise interventions such as quiet time. Taken as a whole, the body of work provides great insights into why noise is problematic for care providers, how staff deal with noise, and how the soundscape can be improved. Results reveal that effective healthcare soundscapes require a complex choreography and user-centered approach to architectural design, acoustic engineering, and healthcare delivery.