The experience of noise in communication-intense workplaces: A qualitative study

PLoS One. 2023 Jan 9;18(1):e0280241. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280241. eCollection 2023.


OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to explore and describe how workers in communication-intense workplaces in health care and preschools experience the sound environment. The dependence on vocal communication and social interaction poses a challenge using hearing protection in these working environments.

METHOD: A qualitative method was used, more specifically inductive thematic analysis was used, as this approach was deemed suitable to explore the staff’s experiences of the sound environment. Data were collected by interviews and to increase trustworthiness, several researchers were involved in the data collection and analysis.

STUDY SAMPLE: Workers from two preschools, one obstetrics ward and one intensive care unit took part in the study.

RESULTS: Four main themes emerged from the thematic analysis: A challenging and harmful sound environment; Health-related effects of a challenging and harmful sound environment; A good sound environment is not prioritised; and Resourceful and motivated staff.

CONCLUSIONS: Workers in communication-intense workplaces in preschools, obstetrics care and intensive care reported that there was a relationship between the sound environment and negative health effects. In addition, the results suggests that the high motivation for change among staff should be utilised together with an increased prioritization from the management to reach innovative context specific improvements to the sound environment in communication intense working environments.

PMID:36622846 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0280241

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