Patients listening to music with surgery report less pain and anxiety

When patients listen to music before, during, or after surgery, they have less postoperative pain, anxiety, and need for pain medication, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in The Lancet. Patients also report increased satisfaction.

Currently, music is not used routinely as a therapeutic intervention with surgery, which might be due to ignorance or skepticism about the effectiveness of music, the authors suggest. “We believe that sufficient research has been done to show that music should be available to all patients undergoing operative procedures,” they concluded.

In this study, researchers in the United Kingdom at Brunel University, in Uxbridge, and Queen Mary University of London reviewed 72 randomized trials involving nearly 7,000 patients that investigated the impact of music on postoperative recovery in adult patients undergoing any form of surgical procedure.

Listening to music at any time seemed effective, although there was a trend for better outcomes if patients listened to music before surgery rather than during or after, the researchers found.

“Patients should be able to choose the type of music they would like to hear, but whether this music should be of their own choice or from a playlist is unclear,” the authors recommended. When patients were allowed to select their own music, they had a slightly greater (but non-significant) reduction in pain and use of pain medication. But they also had a slightly greater (but non-significant) uptick in anxiety when they could choose their own music as opposed to having no choice.

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