The sound environment impacts on our well-being. In healthcare, patients and staff are seen to both feel and do better in an environment with ‘good’, sound-absorbing acoustics, as opposed to being in surroundings with sound-reflecting, or ‘bad’, acoustics.
Sound-reflecting vs. sound-absorbing acoustics
Research comparing the impact of sound-reflecting and sound-absorbing acoustics on healthcare staff and patients (in coronary care) shows clear differences in what is experienced as good and bad healthcare environments, respectively.
A sound-reflecting, ‘bad’, acoustic environment can lead to:
- Difficulties in hearing: having to repeat yourself to a colleague several times when important decisions are being made can lead to irritation.
- Higher risk of re-hospitalisation for patients, compared with those staying in an acoustically ‘good’ environment.
A sound-absorbing, ‘good’, acoustic environment can lead to:
- Less stress.
- Reduced risk of conflicts and errors.
- Lower levels of feeling pressured, irritation and anger among staff, enabling them to provide better care.
- Patients perceiving staff attitude as improved, compared to the attitudes in a sound-reflecting environment.
- Lower perceived noise levels.
The psychosocial work environment in healthcare settings can become better by improving environmental acoustics, the research concludes.
This topic was presented by Töres Theorell at the Care for Sound Symposium. Watch the full presentation below.