Scientists: Music makes surgery patients feel better

For more than a century, physicians have used music to make patients feel better before, during, and after surgery. A new scientific meta-study looks at the evidence and confirms that yes, listening to music has measurable pain-killing properties and reduces anxiety around surgery.

From NPR (listen to the story below):


Dr. Catherine Meads at Brunel University focused her attention on 73 rigorous, randomized clinical trials about the role of music among surgery patients.

"As the studies themselves were small, they really didn't find all that much," Meads says. "But once we put them all together, we had much more power to find whether music worked or not…"

Maybe most notably, patients listening to music used significantly less pain medication. Meads says, on average, music helped the patients drop two notches on the 10-point pain scale. That's the same relief typically reported with a dose of painkilling medicine.

"Currently music is not used routinely during surgery to help patients in their postoperative recovery," she said in a Brunel University news release. "The lack of uptake is often down to the scepticism of professionals as to whether it genuinely works, and of course issues of budget and the integration into daily practice. We hope this study will now shift misperceptions and highlight the positive impact music can have."

More: "Sutures With A Soundtrack: Music Can Ease Pain, Anxiety Of Surgery" (NPR)

"Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis" (The Lancet)

(photo: Elleringmann/Laif/Redux)