Author Credentials

Louise Grant, MClinSci (Periop), RN, MACORN, MACN

Associate Professor Patricia Nicholson, PhD, RN, FACORN

Associate Professor Bronwyn Davidson, PhD., B Sp Thy., FSPA

Professor Elizabeth Manias, PhD, M Nurs Stud, M Pharm, FAAN


Aim: The aim of this study was to explore health professionals’ perceptions of the impact of noise on communication in the operating room.

Sample and setting: Health professionals working in the operating room at a tertiary, affiliated, major referral hospital in northern Australia were recruited using purposive sampling.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were undertaken using an exploratory qualitative design to explore health professionals’ perceptions of communication and the impact of noise in the operating room. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: In all, 26 health professionals participated, including anaesthetists, surgeons, nurses and theatre technicians. Two themes were analysed from the data: barriers to communication and facilitators of communication in the operating room. Barriers to communication focused on difficulties that health professionals experienced when attempting to communicate in the presence of noise – difficulty hearing in noisy operating rooms, positioning of health professionals, and inability to filter out sounds. Facilitators of communication consisted of health professionals’ adaption to the presence of noise during communication – non-verbal communication, such as gestures, and the ability to filter out unwanted sounds.

Conclusion: Health professionals of all levels of experience encounter communication difficulties. With increased experience, health professionals are able to filter out unwanted sounds provided the OR is not too noisy. Consideration needs to be given to the use of space and positioning of noise emitting equipment to optimise communication in the OR. Furthermore, communication can be facilitated by the judicious use of non-verbal communication.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.