The sound environment in an ICU patient room-A content analysis of sound levels and patient experiences

Lotta Johansson, Ingegerd Bergbom, Kerstin Persson Waye, Erica Ryherd, Berit Lindahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


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 55. dB 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-279
Number of pages11
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Environment
  • ICU delirium
  • Intensive care unit
  • Sound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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