Using Music Interventions in Perioperative Care

Authors: Lori Gooding, PhD, MT-BC, Shane Swezey, BM, MT-BC, Joseph B. Zwischenberger, MD


Anxiety and pain are common responses to surgery, and both can negatively affect patient outcomes. Music interventions have been suggested as a nonpharmacological intervention to alleviate pain and anxiety during surgical treatment. Although the data are somewhat mixed, the research suggests that music-based interventions are effective in reducing anxiety, pain perception, and sedative intake. The majority of studies have focused on interventions during the postoperative period and address pain reduction, with preoperative use of music targeting anxiety reduction the second most commonly cited objective. Most of the studies found in the literature involve passive music listening via headphones. The data suggest that researcher-selected music is most effective in reducing anxiety, primarily because it incorporates evidence-based parameters such as consistent tempo and dynamics, stable rhythms, and smooth melodic lines. Finally, the literature suggests that music therapists can serve as experts to help medical personnel identify effective implementation strategies.

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