The effect of earplugs on perceived sleep quality of acute care patients

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of earplugs to improve perceived sleep quality in hospitalized patients. Sleep disruption is a common problem for hospitalized patients and has been shown to lead to physical and emotional complications. A variety of factors such as pain, illness, stress, worry, noise, lights and patient care activities contribute to disturbed sleep. Studies on sound in hospitals have shown that levels exceed recommendations by the Environmental Protection Agency. Limited research has shown that earplugs are a cost-effective, nonpharmacologic intervention with clinical usefulness to improve sleep quality. The study design was a quasi-experimental pilot study using a pre-test and post-test with the participants serving as their own control. Participants were recruited from a telemetry unit at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, Montana. The Verran and Snyder-Halpern Sleep Scales were selected to measure sleep quality. Ten participants were able to complete the two nights of study. The proposed hypothesis was supported for the sleep characteristic, soundness of sleep, with an improvement greater than 15 mm on the night with the ear plugs. Subjective findings identified positive comments with only one participant unable to tolerate the earplugs. The improvement in sleep was clinically significant for these participants. Hospitals should consider creating a sleep promotion policy and re-evaluating their night care practices. Earplugs could be included as an option for patients, and patients experiencing sleep difficulties should be encouraged to try earplugs. Further research is needed with a variety of populations and a large sample size. Research should also be done on nurses' knowledge and beliefs regarding sleep and sleep interventions. This information could provide useful information on areas where additional education is needed.




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