ability to rest, hospital noises, medical-surgical patients



  1. Locke, Christine L. DNP, RN, CNS-CP
  2. Pope, Diana S. PhD, MS, RN


Objectives: The purpose was to determine if an enhanced privacy curtain (1) impacted ability to rest while hospitalized in the acute care setting and (2) improved patient satisfaction associated with environmental noise.


Methods: The project evaluated a privacy curtain designed to increase speech privacy and intelligibility and reduce reverberation time (echo). The curtain was similar to the existing privacy curtain with 2 exceptions: the curtain panel had pocket inserts that absorbed sound, and curtain panels could be zipped together to reduce sound transmission through gaps. Curtains were evaluated on 2 medical-surgical units. Patients with at least 2 nights' stay and were alert and oriented without behavioral concerns were asked to complete a 12-item restful environment assessment.


Results: The project demonstrated some impact on ability to rest. One unit saw an increase in the patient experience sleep measure score and demonstrated a small increase in the patient's self- reported ability to rest during the day and night when using the enhanced curtain.


Conclusion: Patients on medical-surgical units were bothered by the noises typically heard in those units. Small improvements in patient experience with the enhanced curtain were outweighed by cost and increased housekeeping and laundry staff workload.