PURPOSE: Noise is a general stressor that affects the cardiovascular system, resulting in increased blood pressure and heart rate, both of which can be problematic for the patient preparing for anesthesia and surgery. The purpose of this study was to investigate the patient's perception of noise in the OR before anesthesia, the correlation between the actual noise levels and the patient's perception of noise, and if there are particular patient subgroups that are especially vulnerable to noise. DESIGN: This cross-sectional study was performed within a mixed descriptive and analytical design, including 120 patients (60 acute/60 elective) undergoing general anesthesia for orthopaedic surgery. METHODS: Data collection consisted of registration of demographic variables and measurements of noise levels in the OR combined with a questionnaire. FINDINGS: Results showed that 10% of the patients perceived noise levels in the OR as very high and experienced the noise as annoying, disruptive, and stressful. There was no correlation between the actual noise levels to which patients were exposed and their perception of noise. Acute patients perceived significantly more noise than elective patients (P<.01), although they were actually exposed to less noise. Of the acute patients, those undergoing major surgery perceived more noise than patients undergoing minor surgery (P<.01), although actually exposed to less noise. There was a significant correlation between patients' sense of coherence (SOC) and their perception of noise (P<.01). Most patients who perceived noise levels as very high had a SOC below 50 (scale: 13-91). CONCLUSIONS: Perianesthesia nurses need to maintain their focus on keeping noise levels in the OR as low as possible. When caring for acute patients, patients undergoing major surgery and patients with a low SOC perianesthesia nurses should be particularly aware, as these patients might be more vulnerable to noise.
Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 2014, Vol 29, Issue 5, p. 410-7