Document Type

Undergraduate Project

Date of Publication


Professor's Name

Professor Tara Sacco


Purpose The purpose of this study is to explore what demographic and work environment factors in the critical care setting influence alarm fatigue in critical care nurses who have patients on continuous monitoring, if any. These influencing factors may allow for future interventions on alarm safety based upon demographics and unit set-up.

Background Alarm fatigue is a multi-dimensional issue in healthcare that can have harmful impacts on patients. Critical care nurses are among those who are consistently affected by the phenomenon. Current literature supports that alarm fatigue is a prevalent problem within the health care setting, but very few studies have investigated environmental or demographic factors may contribute to alarm fatigue.

Methods The study was cross-sectional, descriptive quantitative in design. Data was collected using a demographic tool was created and distributed along with The Healthcare Technology Foundation’s (HTF) 2016 Clinical Alarms Survey. The survey was completed anonymously by critical care nurses in Western NY using an online survey platform.

Results A total of 23 nurses responded to this survey. Data was analyzed using SPSS 24. After assessing for normality, bivariate correlations of continuous variables were conducted using Pearson’s correlation (r) and noncontinuous variables were conducted using point biserial (rpb). Nursing demographic factors correlated with measures of alarm fatigue included age, level of education, hours worked per week, shift work, and years of nursing experience. Unit characteristics associated with alarm fatigue included average nurse to patient ratio, bedside monitors in each room, number of central monitors, and number of beds. Of the 29 alarm fatigue items, those that were correlated with either nursing or unit characteristics included nuisance alarms occur frequently; nuisance alarms disrupt care; nuisance alarms decrease trust/cause nurses to inappropriately turn off alarms; smart alarms would reduce false alarms; smart alarms would improve clinical response; properly setting alarms is too complex; alarms are adequate to alert staff of patient change; alarms cannot be heard or are missed; and clinical staff are sensitive to alarms and respond quickly.

Conclusions There are nurse demographic and unit characteristics that are significantly related to perceptions regarding alarm fatigue. Once a defined relationship with alarm fatigue is established, changes to the environment and alarm technology can be made accordingly. Interventions should be tested to address specific demographic or unit characteristics.


Project completed to earn Academic Honors in Nursing.

Included in

Nursing Commons