BACKGROUND: Stress, strain, and fatigue at the workplace have previously not been studied in relation to acoustic conditions. AIMS: To examine the influence of different acoustic conditions on the work environment and the staff in a coronary critical care unit (CCU). METHOD: Psychosocial work environment data from start and end of each individual shift were obtained from three shifts (morning, afternoon, and night) for a one-week baseline period and for two four-week periods during which either sound reflecting or sound absorbing tiles were installed. RESULTS: Reverberation times and speech intelligibility improved during the study period when the ceiling tiles were changed from sound reflecting tiles to sound absorbing ones of identical appearance. Improved acoustics positively affected the work environment; the afternoon shift staff experienced significantly lower work demands and reported less pressure and strain. CONCLUSIONS: Important gains in the psychosocial work environment of healthcare can be achieved by improving room acoustics. The study points to the importance of further research on possible effects of acoustics in healthcare on staff turnover, quality of patient care, and medical errors.
BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE: The underlying assumption was that the aesthetics of the hospital surroundings are often neglected. AIMS: This article is the first part of a larger study into the aesthetics of general hospitals. The aim of the study is to throw light on the influence of aesthetics on the health and well-being of patients and the professional personnel, and to examine how aesthetic considerations are dealt with. We present a survey of how the aesthetic dimension is planned and it is considered important in the strategic plans of Norwegian general hospitals. METHODS: Data were sampled by analyzing the strategic plans of somatic hospitals. Sixty-four of 86 hospitals responded (74%). Concepts were categorized in a matrix of 11 main categories, each with subcategories. The method was quantitative, in that the analyzed material was amenable to counting. RESULTS: Very few concrete guidelines or directions for the aesthetic dimension have been included in written documents. This indicates that the aesthetic area is a neglected field in the directions for the daily management of hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: The research available today on the contribution of environmental aesthetics to health, rehabilitation, and well-being suggests that it is important to have concrete guidelines recorded in strategic plans. This field concerns the maintenance of high quality in the caring professions.
The new state of Alaska hopes to announce the completion of its first state mental hospital sometime in 1960. The six-and-a-half-million-dollar structure, to be built in two stages, will be located four miles from the center of the city of Anchorage. Its function will be to serve as an integral part of the total mental health program in which the social forces in the community will be utilized to the maximum by means of mental health clinics where early treatment will be instituted and hospitalization prevented.
SETTING: Asthma symptoms in adults in relation to the indoor environment. OBJECTIVES: To study the relationships between current asthma symptoms (wheeze or attacks of breathlessness) and the indoor environment and dampness in hospitals. DESIGN: A study among personnel (n = 87) in four geriatric hospitals in winter. Indoor air pollutants, dampness in the concrete floor, and allergens in settled dust were measured. Multiple logistic regression analysis was applied, adjusting for age, sex, atopy, and dampness in the participants' own dwellings. RESULTS: Current asthma symptoms were reported by 17%, and 8% had doctor's diagnosed asthma. Asthma symptoms were more common (adjusted odds ratio = 8.6; 95% confidence interval 1.3-56.7) in two buildings with signs of dampness-related degradation of di(ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) floor material, detected as presence of 2-ethyl-1-hexanol (2-32 microg/m3) in indoor air (CAS nr 104-76-7). Asthma symptoms were related to higher relative humidity in the upper concrete floor construction, and ammonia in the floor. The newest hospital, built by an anthroposophic society, had low levels of dampness and few asthma symptoms (4%). Cat (Fel d1) and dog allergens (Can f1) were found in dust from all buildings (geometric mean 340 ng/g and 2490 ng/g, respectively). House dust mite allergens (Derp1, Derf1, or Derm1) were found in 75% of all samples (geometric mean 130 ng/g). There was no relationship between allergen levels and asthma symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Asthma symptoms may be related to increased humidity in concrete floor constructions and emission of 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, an indicator of dampness-related alkaline degradation of plasticiser DEHP. Moreover, geriatric hospitals can be contaminated by significant amounts of cat, dog and mite allergens.