Music soothes the soul and patient pain after surgery

By Fran Matso Lysiak 

Music played in the preoperative setting can reduce an adult patient's postoperative pain, anxiety and need for pain medication, according to a new study published in The Lancet.

Although music therapy didn't change patients' lengths of stay, researchers said it did increase their satisfaction and the intervention is non-invasive, safe and inexpensive.

More than 26,000 U.S. healthcare facilities offer music therapy, providing services for nearly a million patients, FierceHealthcare previously reported. And previous research shows that the intervention helped young adults who underwent stem cell transplants as part of cancer treatment were better able to cope with their treatment. 

But Al Bumanis, a music therapist and spokesperson for the American Music Therapy Association, told CNN that he thinks more hospitals will offer music therapy based on research that shows the powerful effect it has on patient outcomes. 

The research in The Lancet finds that pain was reduced most when music was played preoperatively, compared to intraoperatively and postoperatively. The researchers noted a similar pattern with pain medication use and anxiety.

"We have been able to put together previous small studies and we got a lot more power to show an effect," said Catherine Meads, who studies health technology assessment at Brunel University in the United Kingdom, and one of the authors of the study, in an interview with CNN.

The effects lasted more than four hours following the operation, researchers found. In addition, patients seemed to benefit no matter what type of music they heard.

To learn more:
- read the Lancet study
- here's the CNN article