Surgical Tribune America

Listening to music before surgery could reduce anxiety

By Surgical Tribune
November 04, 2016

CLEVELAND, USA: Collaboration between medical staff and music therapists can be beneficial in providing a safe, cost-effective means of managing patients’ anxiety and pain and reducing the need for pharmacologic intervention in the perioperative setting, according to a new study. The research, conducted by two music therapists and a nurse anesthetist at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, examined the effect of live and recorded music on the anxiety of 207 women undergoing a biopsy for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The authors collaborated to introduce music therapy into the surgical area. In the study, they randomized patients into a control group that heard no music, a live music group and a recorded music group. Owing to limited time before surgery, a song was performed by a music therapist live at the bedside or a recorded song was played on an iPod through earphones to the patients in the experimental groups.

When self-rating their anxiety using a visual scale ranging from “not at all anxious” to “highly anxious”, participants in both music groups experienced a significant reduction in preoperative anxiety of 42.5 percent and 41.2 percent, respectively, when compared with the control group.

“During our two-year trial, we gained information on potential benefits, challenges and methods of facilitating a surgical music therapy program,” said lead author Jaclyn Bradley Palmer, a board-certified music therapist at the center. “In addition, we learned approaches to integrating the program with perioperative nursing staff members.”

Palmer said that a music therapist may be highly beneficial in the surgical setting, and music therapy may be a means of enhancing the quality of patient care in collaboration with perioperative nurses.

“As an interdisciplinary surgical staff member, the music therapist may help nurses achieve patient-related goals of anxiety reduction, pain management, effective education and satisfaction,” she said. “And by having professional music therapists facilitate surgical music therapy programs, nursing workloads also may be reduced.” According to Palmer, additional research should continue to study whether music therapy programs in the surgical area have a positive effect on patients.

The study findings corroborate those of a British study that was published in 2015 and included both sexes. Researchers at Brunel University London and Queen Mary University of London found that listening to music before, during or after a surgical procedure is beneficial to patients, since it can significantly reduce pain and anxiety and thus decrease the need for pain medication. Their study involved reviews of almost 7,000 patients.

The paper, titled “Collaborating with music therapists to improve patient care,” was published in the September issue of the AORN Journal.

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