Listening to music before, during and after an operation can reduce pain

13 August 2015, 15:10

Scientists have found that listening to music makes patients less anxious and even reduces their need for pain relief after surgery.

The research, carried out by scientists at Queen Mary University, London, found that patients were in less pain, were less anxious and even needed less pain relief after surgery if they listened to music before, during and after their operation.

Music even had beneficial effects if the patients were under general anaesthetic.

Researchers carried out 70 trials of around 7,000 patients and compared patients who listened to “soothing” music with patients who had undisturbed bed rest, those who wore headphones with no music playing, patients who listened to white noise and those who just had routine care.

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The results were published in The Lancet – and the lead author of the study, Dr Catherine Meads, herself found music to be beneficial when she was recovering from hip surgery – specifically Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Dr Meads said she was surprised to discover that music had a beneficial effect even when the patient was under anaesthetic.

“Music is a non-invasive, safe and inexpensive intervention that can be delivered easily and successfully.”

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She went on to say: “Currently music is not used routinely during surgery to help patients in their post-operative recovery. The lack of uptake is often down to the scepticism of professionals as to whether it genuinely works.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “This is very interesting research. We hope doctors consider the findings closely, because we want patients to have the best possible experience and recovery possible when they undergo surgery.”