Reducing hospital ICU noise: a behavior-based approach

J Healthc Eng. 2014;5(2):229-46. doi: 10.1260/2040-2295.5.2.229.


Noise in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) is gaining increasing attention as a significant source of stress and fatigue for nursing staff. Extensive research indicates that hospital noise also has negative impact on patients. The objective of this study was to analyze noise variations as experienced by both nursing staff and patients, to gain a better understanding of noise levels and frequencies observed in ICU settings over extended (week-long) durations, and to implement a low cost behavior modification program to reduce noise. The results of our study indicate that behavioral modification alone is not adequate to control excessive noise. There is a need for further research involving the supportive involvement by clinicians, ICU staff, along with effective medical device alarm management, and continuous process improvement methods.

Keywords: hospital noise; noise pollution; occupational noise; occupational stress; patient safety; performance obstacle.

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Length of Stay
  • Noise, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data
  • Occupational Health*
  • Patient Safety*
  • Patients' Rooms