International Congress on Acoustics

January 28, 2020

Back in September, at the 23rd International Congress on Acoustics - the world-leading global acoustic conference – there was an impressive amount of abstract submission discussing among other things the impact of noise and acoustics on learning and healing.

Acoustic conference healthcare healing

Improving wellbeing with acoustics

The research presented at the conference was cutting-edge and there was a real buzz that extended between the sessions in the open exhibition areas. Some of the most interesting presentations were about “Open plan offices”, which took place on the second day of the conference. There were over 18 presentations on that theme alone. Another great session was on day four where Saki Noguchi from Japan’s Meiji University in Architectural Acoustics Laboratory and Waseda University's Cognitive Psychology Laboratory shared great insights about how noise impacts children in learning environments. The study looked at the differences between Japan and Germany.

Putting focus on acoustic in hospitals

Another important topic at ICA was around acoustic regulations in hospitals, where our own Sustainability and Public Affairs Officer, Georg Schöner, gave a presentation about how interior acoustic environments can improve in the recovery of patients.

Although the World Health Organisation Guidelines have been in place for over 20 years, most hospitals don’t reach the recommended levels1. This is worrying, as 60% of emergency department staff regard noise in the work environment as “somewhat” or “very” burdensome2. This is supported by the fact that 70% of key medical mistakes in emergency divisions can be traced back to communication shortcomings3.

To improve the situation, stricter room acoustic regulations are necessary. The presentation shows which major European countries have regulations in place and how they compare. It concludes, with recommendations, for how to improve hospitals' acoustic environments across Europe.

Right after his presentation, Georg concluded, “it was great to also have engaging discussions after the presentation with stakeholders from countries that were not covered in the study. I spoke with acoustic professionals from Turkey, Latvia, and New Zealand among others. The suggestions from the audience to further increase the efforts was very motivating.”

The next International Congress on Acoustics takes place in Korea in 3 years’ time (24 - 28 October, 2022, Gyeongju, Korea)



1 Busch-Vishniac et al., “Noise Levels in John Hopkins Hospital”, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Dec 2005, 118(6), p3629-3645
2 M. Simon, P. Tackenberg et al., Auswertung der ersten Befragung der NEXT-Studie in Deutschland. Wuppertal University, 2005
3 Joint Commission. Sentinel Event Data, Root Causes by Event Type, 2010