The paper begins by defining noise (as sound higher than that recommended for hospitals and considered undesirable or intolerable by patients) and questioning noise levels in hospitals and how patients are affected by it. The author cites studies between 1961 and 1981 that showed that ill people had a lower tolerance for sound than healthier people, sounds in hospitals were higher than recommended levels and tended to be a stress factor for patients, and that when sound was considered to be noise, it led to stress, which in turn could delay healing.