Effect of environmental changes on noise in the NICU.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


To evaluate the effect of changes in the NICU environment on sound levels.


A prospective quasi-experimental design evaluated sound levels in a 43-bed NICU. Decibel levels were monitored utilizing a data-logging dosimeter for 24 hours weekly over 12 months. Sound levels were also measured inside four different incubator models.


Forty-four 24-hour decibel recordings were obtained in one of eight randomly selected four-bed pods. In addition, a single 1-hour recording was obtained in four different models of vacant incubators.

Main outcome variable

Ambient sound levels.


Decibel levels were analyzed to identify changes in noise levels following alterations in the NICU environment. Installation of motion-sensing motorized paper towel holders significantly increased levels at beds closest to the towel dispensers, as did thetrial of a new communication system. Decibel levels in four different incubators revealed varying noise levels. This study suggests that all environmental changes must be monitored to ensure that they reduce rather than increase noise levels.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brandon, DH; Ryan, DJ; Barnes, AH

Published Date

  • July 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 213 - 218

PubMed ID

  • 17710954

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1539-2880

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0730-0832

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1891/0730-0832.26.4.213


  • eng