Music Reduces Need For Pain Medications After Surgery

Dr Martin Hirsch  Clinical Research Fellow Women’s Health Research Unit Queen Mary University of Interview with:
Dr Martin Hirsch
Clinical Research Fellow
Women’s Health Research Unit
Queen Mary University of London and
Dr Jenny Hole Foundation Year 1 Doctor Kettering University Hospital

Dr Jenny Hole
Foundation Year 1 Doctor
Kettering University Hospital


MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As doctors we see medicines being prescribed on a daily basis and the benefit but also harm that they can cause. We wanted to assess the role of non pharmaceutical interventions which can benefit patients with a low or minimal potential for harm. We all have an interest in music of different genres and we agreed that we didn’t know anybody who did not like music of one sort or another. On the basis that we all have gained pleasure from music, we wanted to see if this pleasurable experience at the time of a difficult and painful stimulus could reduce the problems encountered as people recover from surgery.

We searched all published medical literature and found 73 of the highest quality studies (randomised controlled trials) to compare and combine their findings in a meta-analysis. This technique aims to strengthen the validity by producing a combined result.

We found that using music before during or after surgery reduced pain, reduced the requirement for pain killers, reduced anxiety, and improved satisfaction.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: We feel this shows conclusively that music improves recovery from a surgical procedure. We hope that all hospitals will begin to advise patients in pre-operative consultations to bring their music and headphones with them for any procedure that is likely to be distressing or painful.

We would also recommend departments that regularly perform procedures to make the small investment for a music playing device that can offer the patient a choice of music without creating communication difficulties between staff.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: This study demonstrates that music conveys benefit to patients with no reported detrimental effects from any of the 73 studies. We are currently conducting a feasibility study at The Royal London Hospital which aims to qualitatively assess and observe patient clinician interactions with music playing to assess the potential barriers or difficulties to implementing music on a wider scale within the NHS. This study hopes to be able to make recommendations to healthcare providers of how best to implement this cheap, effective, and low risk intervention.


Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Jenny Hole, MBBS,Martin Hirsch, MBBS, Elizabeth Ball, PhD, Catherine Meads, PhD

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Last Updated on August 14, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD

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