Relating acoustics and human outcome measures in hospitals

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Hsu, Timothy Yuan-Ting
Ryherd, Erica E.
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Hospital noise has been an area of concern for medical professionals and researchers for the last century. Researchers have attempted to characterize the soundscape of hospital wards and have made some preliminary links between noise and human outcomes. In the past, most of the research has used traditional acoustic metrics. These traditional metrics, such as average sound level, are readily measured using sound level meters and have been the primary results reported in previous studies. However, it has been shown that these traditional metrics may be insufficient in fully characterizing the wards. The two studies presented here use traditional metrics and nontraditional metrics to define the soundscape of hospital wards. The uncovered links, between both sound level metrics and psychoacoustic metrics and patient physiological measurements, are discussed. Correlations and risk ratios demonstrate the presence and the strength of these relationships. These results demonstrate the relationships between hospital acoustics and patient physiological arousal. Additionally, the effects of adding absorption in a hospital ward are presented. Sound level, sound power, reverberation time and other acoustic metrics are directly affected. The speech intelligibility in these wards is evaluated in order to highlight the temporal nature of speech intelligibility. With both studies combined, both traditional and nontraditional acoustic measures are shown to have statistically significant relationships to both patient and staff outcomes.
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