Effects of hospital noise on staff: Increased stress, annoyance and burnout, but what about job performance?

Hospitals are often noisy and not conducive to staff performance. Indeed, many staff believe that noise negatively affects their professional performance, quality of work, and ability to concentrate and communicate. Research shows that increased stress and annoyance, increased rates of burnout, and reduced occupational health are a few of the possible effects of hospital noise on staff. However, only a few hospital studies have directly linked noise to job performance. Results show that noise and distractions can potentially deteriorate mental efficiency and short-term memory and increase errors, but other studies have shown no significant effects. Alarm fatigue is also of concern, as staff may tune out, silence, or disable alarms because they are desensitized or exhausted by them. This paper will discuss what is currently known about hospital noise and staff performance and what questions remain. On-going studies relating the sound environment to staff performance in medical simulations will also be highlighted.

Source: Gabriel Messingher1, Erica Ryherd1, and Jeremy Ackerman. Hospital noise and staff performance. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Volume 132, Issue 3, pp. 2031-2031 (2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4755468


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