Healthy auditory environments for hospital nursing staff

PhD candidate: Jikke Reinten

Supervisors: Prof.dr. H.S.M. (Helianthe) Kort, M.C.J. (Maarten) Hornikx, Prof.dr. A.G. (Armin) Kohlrausch
Chair: Building Acoustics, Building Performance
Strategic area: Health
Research period: 2015-2019

Room acoustics, interior design choices, alarm management, people's behavior, building services all influence and determine the auditory environment in a hospital. Most of the research on this topic has focused on noise and the influence on patient outcomes and patients' well-being in ICU's or NICU's. There is however little evidence on the effect of the room acoustics in other hospital room typologies, and on other target groups such as the nursing staff. This project aims to investigate the influence of hospital room acoustics on (nursing) staff and patients.

Based on literature, a framework has been set up that will guide the different phases of the project. It entails a theoretical model of how the auditory environment influences a person's health, well-being and behavior in a specific situation. A systematic review of the current knowledge on how auditory stimuli influence people in a professional setting will form the starting point of this project. The theoretical model will be used to analyze literature and identify knowledge gaps.  Laboratory experiments, observational studies and interventions will be planned accordingly, in order to create a better understanding on healthy auditory environments in general and, more specific, a better definition of  'good' acoustics in hospitals and a higher level of evidence for the need of good acoustics in hospitals.

The model suggests that health outcomes can be a result from both direct physiological responses to external stimuli ( such as hearing loss) or from psychological responses. The focus in this research will be on the psychological response to auditory stimuli, the moderators that influence this response and the health outcomes that result from the response. Job stress will be an important topic, and the relation between job stress and a person's psychological response to the auditory environment will be investigated.