Healthy soundscapes are paramount to the missions of hospitals: patients need to sleep and heal without unnecessary environmental stressors; staff, patients, and family need to communicate accurately but privately; staff need to be able to localize alarms and calls for help. The topic of healthcare acoustics has gained increasing attention over the last decade and there is growing research evidence of the potentially negative effects of poor soundscapes on hospital occupants.
This talk discusses recent findings from the Healthcare Acoustics Research Team (HART), an international, interdisciplinary collaboration of specialists in architecture, engineering, medicine, nursing, and psychology. Members of the HART network are actively engaged in research in the United States and Sweden, having worked in a more than a dozen hospitals and a broad range of unit types including adult and neonatal intensive care, emergency, operating, long-term patient care, mother-baby, and others. Highlights will include projects relating noise and room acoustic measures to staff and patient response in addition to studies evaluating impacts of acoustic retrofits. Results show that effective hospital soundscapes require a complex choreography of architectural layout, acoustic design, and administrative processes that is only beginning to be fully understood.