Using Music Interventions in Perioperative Care

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


South Med J. 2012;105(9):486-490. 

In This Article

Music in the Postoperative Stage

More than 80% of patients experience moderate to severe pain postoperatively, and inadequately treated pain can lead to decreased sleep/rest quality, delayed wound healing, longer hospitalization, increased costs, and decreased patient satisfaction.[20,21] Effectiveness data in the literature are mixed, but overall it is believed that music decreases pain and opioid requirements.[21] To that end, relaxation and music are recommended in the acute pain management guidelines as interventions to be used in conjunction with opioids for moderate postoperative pain.[15]

Nilsson's systematic review contained 15 studies that used music interventions postoperatively.[3] Of those 15, 9 demonstrated significant pain reducing effects. Cepeda et al also conducted a systematic review, with 14 studies that included targeted music for postoperative pain.[23] These investigators concluded that music was effective in reducing pain and opioid consumption but that it should not be used as the primary method of pain relief.

Allred et al investigated the effect of a music medicine intervention (listening to music via headphones) or a rest period on pain and anxiety before and after the first ambulation in patients who underwent total knee arthroplasty.[22] Results indicated that both groups improved but that the music group showed a 10% greater reduction in anxiety and an 8% greater reduction in pain. Although this finding was not statistically significant, the authors point out that the results may be clinically significant. They further argue that music, which poses "no risks," has the potential to positively affect opioid consumption while also improving patient mood and providing enjoyment; therefore, music should be considered a viable treatment option.