The conception that critically ill patients are too ill to reflect on their sound environment in the intensive care unit needs to be revised. This was one of the conclusions Swedish researchers made in a qualitative study on patient experiences of their stay in intensive care.
Patients gave vivid descriptions of how they both felt safe and comforted by certain sounds. But also that they were struggling with unreal experiences interwoven with sounds that could be perceived as frightening and also give a sense of lack of control in their already stressful situation. These results also hint that disturbing sounds may be connected to delusion and delirium, but more research is needed to verify this link.
As critically ill patients’ experiences of sound and noise are poorly investigated. This study fills a great need when it comes to understanding the actual patient situation. It also highlights that steps forward to better the sound environment are necessary.
Read the full article on the meaning of being critically ill in the intensive ICU patient room here