The sound of potency: An observation study of nurses’ approach to sound in a pediatric intensive care unit

Emma Mellgren, Janet Mattsson


Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the nurses’ approach to three sources of sound that contribute to high noise levels; alarms, doors that open and conversation.
Methods: Methods used derived from a theoretical perspective based on interpretive phenomenology and caring culture. In the pediatric intensive care, the caregivers of the children work in a high-tech environment as they are surrounded by sound from several sources. How caregivers understand and acknowledge how these sounds negatively affect a child’s well-being depends on their individual knowledge and awareness of how children are affected by sound. In most cases, coming into an intensive care unit is a new experience for a child. This causes greater stress, both from the environment itself as well as from sound levels. The method was built on a phenomenological perspective and an interpretive non-participation, semi-structured observations were conducted in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) of one of Sweden’s metropolitan regions in the winter of 2014-2015.
Results: The results show that noise is an overlooked phenomenon in the pediatric intensive care environment as it has given way to other priorities in the nurse’s work. It is also apparent that this depends on the department’s caring culture as it prioritizes other things, resulting in normalizing high levels of noise as a part of the pediatric intensive care environment.
Conclusions: Noise levels are not a priority in the department’s caring culture. High noise levels are permitted unreflectedly and appears to be a token of potency and an accepted part of the health care environment.

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Clinical Nursing Studies
ISSN 2324-7940(Print)   ISSN 2324-7959(Online)

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