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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relationship between occupational noise exposure and stress in long-term care facility workers Hsiung, Pey Yuan (Emily)


The sound characteristics of many healthcare settings have been documented to be very poor. There has been extensive research about the adverse effects of noise, especially on patients in acute care settings, but little research has examined long-term residential care workers’ exposure to noise. Excessive noise exposure has been associated with burnout in critical care nurses as well as with health problems, such as adverse cardiovascular effects. However, there is a lack of research evaluating the effects of occupational noise exposure on healthcare providers’ health status and stress levels. Hence, a non-experimental, correlational study was undertaken to answer the research question, “What is the relationship between occupational noise and healthcare workers’ stress in long-term care facilities?” A stratified sample of 6 long-term care facilities was obtained within Vancouver Coastal Health and convenience samples of healthcare workers were recruited from each facility. Repeated exposure (noise) and outcome (stress) assessments over four sampling days were conducted utilizing noise dosimeters and biophysiological and self-reported measures, including salivary cortisol, heart rate variability, and Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale. Participants were exposed to mean A-weighted average sound pressure levels ranging between 74.4 to 74.8 dB(A) and C-weighted peaking sound pressure levels as high as 143.5 dB(C). Bivariate correlation analyses revealed statistically significant correlations between the A-weighted average sound pressure levels and heart rate variability indices (i.e., standard deviation of the NN intervals and low frequency to high frequency ratios), and the type of shift worked (i.e., evening/night versus day shift). Healthcare workers who worked day shifts were exposed to higher sound levels, and those who were exposed to higher noise levels experienced more stress. Linear regression analyses were conducted to explore the interrelationships among the statistically significant correlations. A-weighted average sound pressure levels made a statistically significant contribution to two heart rate variability indices: standard deviation of NN intervals and low frequency to high frequency ratios throughout the four sampling days, when the shift worked was controlled.

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