Hearing loss and speech privacy in the health care setting: A case study

David A. Zapala, David B. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ensuring speech privacy has become an important consideration in the design of health care environments. The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements include the establishment of reasonable technical and procedural methods to protect patient privacy. However, specific standards for meeting speech privacy requirements are not currently established. This article presents a case study of two clinical environments, one where speech privacy was judged by health care workers to be adequate and one where speech privacy was judged to be inadequate. Careful study of both environments revealed three factors that led to the perception of inadequate speech privacy. First, sound attenuation between adjacent rooms was slightly poorer by 5 dB in the inadequate environments. Second, ambient noise levels were lower by 9 dB in the inadequate environment. Finally, geriatric patients with hearing loss prompted health care workers to increase their speech intensity, decrease language complexity, and decrease the speed at which speech was articulated. These factors made it more probable that speech was overheard and understood. Existing methods to calculate speech privacy in health care settings need to consider the effect of hearing loss on the acoustics of the oral communication transaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-225
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2008

Keywords

  • Articulation index
  • Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • Privacy index
  • Speech intelligibility index
  • Speech privacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Hearing loss and speech privacy in the health care setting: A case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this