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Noise in the preschool: health and preventive measures
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is based on noise recordings and health evaluations carried out at preschools in the northern part of Sweden. Sound level recordings were made on individuals and by use of stationary devices in dining rooms and play halls. Health evaluations were based on ratings by use of questionnaires and by analyses of cortisol.

The average equivalent individual noise exposure was 71 dB(A). The average equivalent noise levels in the dining room and playing halls were 64 dB(A). The hearing loss of the employees was significantly higher for the frequencies tested than in an unexposed control group. Symptoms of tinnitus were reported among 31% of the employees. Noise annoyance was rated as somewhat to very annoying, and the voices of the children were the most annoying noise source. The dB(A) level and fluctuations of the noise exposure were significantly correlated with the number of children per department. Stress and energy output were pronounced among the employees. About 30% of the staff experienced strong burnout syndromes. Mental recovery was low as indicated by noise fatigue and high levels of stress after work. Increased cortisol levels during work were associated with higher number of children present at the department.

An essential finding of the thesis was that noise and noise sources may impair the pedagogic work, thereby increasing the work load of employees. It is concluded that noise exposure in the preschool, isolated or in combination with other stressors, plays a fundamental role in the building up of acute as well as long term stress. An intervention study implementing six acoustical and seven organizational measures was tested, aimed to improve the noise situation in the departments. Acoustical measures improved the noise situation as well as the rated noise experiences better than the organizational measures.

Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingen baseras på ett samarbete med förskoleverksamheten inom Umeå kommun och har innefattat medverkan från 101 pedagoger i delstudie 1 och 24 pedagoger i en delstudie 2. Studie 1 som redovisas i tre delarbeten, I, II och III, har innefattat personburna och stationära bullermätningar i lekhallar och i matsalar. Påverkan på upplevelser samt hälsoeffekter av ljudmiljön har analyserats via frågeformulär och analyser av kortisol. Kontroll av hörselstatus har genomförts via audiometrisk screening.

Studie 1 innefattar analys av bullrets effekter på såväl hörselrelaterad (Delarbete I) som stressrelaterad ohälsa (Delarbete II). Olika typer av åtgärder för att förbättra ljudmiljön och minska den bullerrelaterade ohälsan redovisas i delarbete III. Delarbete IV fokuserar på hur samverkan mellan buller och arbetsorganisation kan påverka den stressrelaterade ohälsan.

Genomförda analyser av buller visar på förhållandevis likvärdiga bullerexponeringsnivåer förskolor och avdelningar emellan. Skillnaderna i exponeringsnivåer veckodagar emellan var små, skillnader mellan individer var däremot stora. Påtagliga skillnader i exponeringsnivåer förelåg som väntat under arbetsdagen. I synnerhet den personburna bulleranalysen pekade på en bullerexponering med påtagliga inslag av variation och transienter i exponeringen. Ljudmiljön karaktäriserades av medverkande pedagoger som den enskilt mest besvärande arbetsmiljöfaktorn. Barnens röster och ljud från deras aktiviteter klassificerades som de mest besvärande bullerkällorna.

Personalen uppvisade sämre hörtrösklar för samtliga testade frekvenser jämfört med svensk ej bullerexponerad referenspopulation. De försämrade hörtrösklarna var relativt låga och föranledde inte i något fall remittering till hörselklinik. Prevalensen för tinnitus var 31 %, vilket motsvarar en överfrekvens på 15-20 %, jämfört med svenskt normalvärde. Ljudtrötthet efter arbetsdagens slut utgjorde ett uttalat symptom bland pedagogerna liksom försämrad sömnkvalitet och förhöjd sömnighet vid uppvaknande. Analyser av arbetsbelastning baserat på skattning och kortisolmätningar, indikerade höga energiuttag under arbete och inslag av utpräglad stress, och i flera fall utbrändhet. Signifikanta samband mellan upplevd dålig ljudmiljö, maskering av tal, försämrade förutsättningar för det pedagogiska arbetet och därmed ökad ohälsa kunde påvisas. Ljudmiljön, såväl nivåer som fluktuationer påverkades på ett uttalat sätt av antalet barn på avdelningen. Detta utgjorde också den enskilt viktigaste faktorn för att förbättra såväl ljudmiljön som den till ljudmiljön relaterade hälsan. Akustiska åtgärder visade sig genomgående mer framgångsrika för att förbättra ljudklimatet än organisatoriska åtgärder.       

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2012. , 69 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1535
Keyword [en]
Noise, hearing disorders, stress, health, occupational environment, preventive measures, intervention
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-61442ISBN: 978-91-7459-518-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-61442DiVA: diva2:567799
Public defence
2012-12-12, Naturvetarhuset, Sal N320, Johan Bures väg 16, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-11-21 Created: 2012-11-14 Last updated: 2012-11-21Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Noise exposure and auditory effects on preschool personnel
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2012 (English)In: Noise & Health, ISSN 1463-1741, E-ISSN 1998-4030, Vol. 14, no 57, 72-82 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Hearing impairments and tinnitus are being reported in an increasing extent from employees in the preschool. The investigation included 101 employees at 17 preschools in Umeå county, Sweden. Individual noise recordings and stationary recordings in dining rooms and play halls were conducted at two departments per preschool. The effects of noise exposures were carried out through audiometric screenings and by use of questionnaires. The average individual noise exposure was close to 71 dB(A), with individual differences but small differences between the preschools. The noise levels in the dining room and playing halls were about 64 dB(A), with small differences between the investigated types of rooms and preschools. The hearing loss of the employees was significantly higher for the frequencies tested when compared with an unexposed control group in Sweden. Symptoms of tinnitus were reported among about 31% of the employees. Annoyance was rated as somewhat to very annoying. The voices of the children were the most annoying noise source. The dB(A) level and fluctuation of the noise exposure were significantly correlated to the number of children per department. The preschool sound environment is complex and our findings indicate that the sound environment is hazardous regarding auditory disorders. The fluctuation of the noise is of special interest for further research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Medknow Publications, 2012
Keyword
Auditory effects, hearing loss, noise fluctuation, noise, preschool, tinnitus
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60609 (URN)10.4103/1463-1741.95135 (DOI)22517307 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2012-11-13 Created: 2012-10-19 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. Noise and stress effects on preschool personnel
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2012 (English)In: Noise & Health, ISSN 1463-1741, E-ISSN 1998-4030, Vol. 14, no 59, 166-178 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of the study was to analyze the presence of stress-related health problems among preschool employees and the way in which these reactions are related to noise and other work parameters. The investigation included 101 employees at 17 preschools in Umeå County, located in northern Sweden. Individual noise recordings and recordings in dining rooms and play halls were made at two departments from each preschool. The adverse effects on the employees were analyzed by use of different validated questionnaires and by saliva cortisol samples. Stress and energy output were pronounced among the employees, and about 30% of the staff experienced strong burnout syndromes. Mental recovery after work was low, indicated by remaining high levels of stress after work. The burnout symptoms were associated with reduced sleep quality and morning sleepiness. Cortisol levels supported the conclusion about pronounced daily stress levels of the preschool employees.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Medknow Publications, 2012
Keyword
Health, noise, preschool personnel, stress
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60597 (URN)10.4103/1463-1741.99892 (DOI)22918147 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2012-11-13 Created: 2012-10-18 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
3. Measures against preschool noise and its adverse effects on the personnel: an intervention study
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2014 (English)In: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, ISSN 0340-0131, E-ISSN 1432-1246, Vol. 87, no 1, 95-110 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose

The aim of the study was to analyze the exposure effects of different types of noise measures carried out at preschools. The project was carried out as an intervention study.

Methods

The investigation included 89 employees at 17 preschools in the northern part of Sweden. Individual noise recordings and recordings in dining rooms and play halls were made at two departments in each preschool. The adverse effects on the employees were analyzed with validated questionnaires and saliva cortisol samples. Evaluations were made before and one year after the first measurement. Between the two measurements, measures had been taken to improve the sound environments at the preschools.

Results

The effects of the measures varied at lot, both with respect to the sound environments and health. Regarding acoustical measures, significant changes were seen for some of the variables analyzed. For most of the tested effects, the changes however were very small and non-significant. The effects of organizational measures on the objective and subjective noise values were in overall less pronounced.

Conclusion

Acoustical measures improved the subjectively rated sound environment more than organizational measures. This may be due to the high work effort needed to implement organizational measures. Even though the sound level was not lower, the personnel experienced improvements of the sound environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2014
Keyword
Noise, Measures, Stress, Health, Occupational environment, Intervention
National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60614 (URN)0340-0131 (ISRN)10.1007s00420-012-0833-x (DOI)
Available from: 2012-10-19 Created: 2012-10-19 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
4. Work related stress and stressors in the preschool environment
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The study included six departments, with two employees at each department, characterized by high levels of stress and burnout and six departments, with two employees at each department, characterized by low levels of stress andburnout. A total of 24 females with a mean age of 43.5 years participated in the study. The employees rated stress at work and burnout by use of different questionnaires. Cortisol samples were collected at wake up, one hour afterwake up, at 11:00 am and at 09:00 pm. An observation study was made to create an overview of the interactionbetween the children and the personnel during periods described as overloading.

More than 50% of the employees stated that all members of the staff did not have equal commitment to the work. About 8% considered this stressful to a high degree. More than half found their increased administrative work task as stressful to a high degree. Half of the personnel felt it stressful to a high degree, not being able to give all the children the attention they needed.

The highest stressors regarding the organization of the work were when conflicts occurred among the personnel. The highest stressors regarding noise were the children´s voices closely followed by noise when changing the children´sclothes. The highest stressor regarding the constitution of the child group was when the personnel experienced that they had a child in the group they thought needed special support. In general, the high stress group rated all stressors as higher compared to the low stress group. Significant differences were pronounced among stressors regarding“organization of the work” and “work situations”. The results also indicate that individuals who are highly stressed by noise from the childrens activities rated their rewards as lower. The high stress group had more communications to and from the children, both before lunch and during lunch.

An essential conclusion, is also that noise and noise sources, may impair the work situation of the employees fundamentally, thereby increasing the stress levels. It is assumed that noise exposures in the preschool, isolated or in combination with other stressor, plays a fundamental role in the building up acute as well as long term stress. One of the stand points of the study is that overloaded communication between the personnel and children might be a pronounced factor behind the situational and longterm stress.

National Category
Environmental Health and Occupational Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60615 (URN)
Available from: 2012-10-19 Created: 2012-10-19 Last updated: 2012-11-21Bibliographically approved

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