Music May Improve Recovery After Surgery: Study

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Several recent studies have shown that music can have a positive impact on a wide range of things in the medical world, from helping surgeons improve incision closures to helping prevent epileptic seizures. Now, new research published in The Lancet suggests that patients who regularly listen to music before, after, or even during surgery experience less anxiety and pain compared to patients who aren’t exposed to music.

Researchers from Brunel University looked at 72 controlled trials involving nearly 7,000 adult patients who were undergoing a surgical procedure. All of the trials measured how hearing music before, during, or after the surgery impacted the patients’ recovery, specifically their perception of postoperative pain and anxiety, their desire for pain medication, and the duration of time spent in the hospital.

As expected, the findings showed that patients who listened to music (regardless of whether it was before, after, or during the procedure) reported significantly less pain and anxiety after their surgery, were less likely to ask for pain medication, and also had an increased sense of satisfaction post-surgery. Interestingly, even being under an anesthetic produced the same trend, albeit not as drastically as when the patients were awake during the surgery. However, the music didn’t seem to have a noticeable effect on the duration of hospital stay.

Study authors conclude that music may be a valuable tool—not to mention a safe, noninvasive, and cheap one—when incorporated into recovery therapies for patients in hospitals. That being said, it’s important to make sure that the music, especially when played during surgery, doesn’t interfere with the medical team’s ability to clearly communicate with one another.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Hole, J., et al., “Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” The Lancet 2015;, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60169-6.
Whiteman, H., “Music may reduce pain, anxiety after surgery,” Medical News Today web site, August 13, 2015;