People are often highly anxious when they are in the hospital. For good reason. And what soothes tension pretty well? Music could be the answer. A new study has brought up a good point: strapping on some headphones and listening to music during a hospital medical procedure might simply be good for your health.
The researchers, out of Duke University, found that noise-canceling headphones playing a classical melody may reduce the pain and anxiety of men undergoing a prostate biopsy.
The finding, published this month in the journal “Urology,” points to a simple and inexpensive way — in this case — to help 700,000 U.S. men who undergo prostate biopsy every year. This diagnostic procedure is essentially the only way to unearth prostate cancer, one of the biggest health threats to adult men.
The music angle is a matter of shifting attention, providing a soothing distraction from the procedure.
(And how about cancer patients turning to music therapy? Read the article New Cancer Therapy Is Music to Your Ears.)
Researchers enrolled 88 patients and randomly assigned them to three groups. The first had no headphones; the second wore the noise-canceling headphones but heard no music; and the third wore the headphones and listened to Bach concertos.
Blood pressure was taken before and after a trans-rectal biopsy — an intrusive procedure involving an ultrasound probe and a spring-loaded needle that has a loud trigger. The noise alone causes many men to flinch even if they report no pain, and 20% of men experience high stress and anxiety about the procedure.
Among study participants in both groups with no musical intervention, diastolic blood pressure remained elevated after the procedure. But those listening to music through their headphones had no such spike in blood pressure. They also reported less pain in questionnaires.
This strategy for making hospital stays less stressful could be easily rolled out. It requires only headphones and music. In our opinion, if you are set to undergo a hospital procedure, check ahead and see if you can bring in your own MP3 player and tune out while the stressful test is done.