This study had two aims: first to describe, using both descriptive statistics and quantitative content analysis, the noise environment in an ICU patient room over one day, a patient's physical status during the same day and early signs of ICU delirium; second, to describe, using qualitative content analysis, patients' recall of the noise environment in the ICU patient room. The final study group comprised 13 patients. General patient health status data, ICU delirium observations and sound-level data were collected for each patient over a 24-hour period. Finally, interviews were conducted following discharge from the ICU. The sound levels in the patient room were higher than desirable and the LAF max levels exceed 55dB 70-90% of the time. Most patients remembered some sounds from their stay in the ICU and whilst many were aware of the sounds they were not disturbing to them. However, some also experienced feelings of fear related to sounds emanating from treatments and investigations of the patient beside them. In this small sample, no statistical connection between early signs of ICU delirium and high sound levels was seen, but more research will be needed to clarify whether or not a correlation does exist between these two factors.
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