Many of us dread the thought of having to undergo surgery, and for good reason. It can be incredibly painful and the thought of the unknown can create a great deal of anxiety. Thankfully scientists in Britain have spent time reviewing evidence from 7,000 patients and prescribed the magic drug to reduce pain and anxiety – music.
A team at Queen Mary University of London found that listening to music before, during and after surgery reduces people’s pain, anxiety and need for painkillers.
The researchers analysed data on adult patients undergoing a range of surgical procedures – with or without anaesthesia – to any part of their body (excluding the central nervous system, head and neck due to potential hearing impairment).
As part of this analysis, over 70 randomised controlled trials were conducted to study the impact of music on postoperative recovery compared to standard care or other non-medical interventions, such as massage.
Nearly 7,000 patients were involved in the systematic review with the findings confirming the link between music in the operating theatre and a significant reduction in postoperative pain, postoperative anxiety and the need for postoperative pain relief medication.
As for the type, timing or duration of music, the evidence found that these factors had very little impact on the outcome. And interestingly, music was effective even when patients were under general anaesthetic.
Dr Martin Hirsch, one of the study’s co-authors, said: “We have known since the time of Florence Nightingale that listening to music has a positive impact on patients during surgery, by making them feel calmer and reducing pain. However, it’s taken pulling together all the small studies on this subject into one robust meta-analysis to really prove it works.”
So if you or a loved one are heading to hospital soon, make sure you pack your headphones and play list and have a chat to hospital staff about it being possible to tune in before, during and after your procedure.