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Research Summaries Supporting Therapeutic Music


Better Pain Management

Harpist Using Music as TherapyStudy indicates that music helps patients match their physical rhythms to music and that music helps facilitate physical functions such as hand grasp strength and gait training. Music was effective in helping stroke victims adhere to exercise programs, helped alleviate depression, and was effective as a pain management technique.

Journal of Music Therapy 42 (1) 81-92


Reduced Anxiety

Study found that music was effective in reducing anxiety and became a self-reinforcing mechanism, empowering women to manage their stress. Subjects who had 20 minutes of quiet actually increased in anxiety level, whereas those with music were able to relax and quality of sleep improved. First exposure to music was effective and subsequent exposures increased in effectiveness.

"Effects of Music Therapy on the Anxiety Levels and Sleep Patterns of Abused Women in Shelters," by Hernandez-Ruiz, Eugenia

Journal of Music Therapy 42(2) 2005, 140-158


This paper reports a study to test the hypothesis that day surgery patients who listen to music during their preoperative wait will have statistically significantly lower levels of anxiety than patients who receive routine care. The conclusion of the study supports the use of music as an independent nursing intervention for preoperative anxiety in patients having day surgery.

"The Effect of Music on Preoperative Anxiety in Day Surgery," by Cooke M., Chaboyer W., Schluter P., Hiratos M.

School of Nursing, Research Centre for Clinical Practice Innovation, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, m.cooke@griffith.edu.au.


Lower Blood Pressure

BedsideThis study tested the effects of music on 50 male surgeons as they performed mental-arithmetic tasks. Research indicated that blood pressures increased least when surgeons performed the task while listening to music of their own choosing.

"Music and Blood Pressure Reduction"

Harvard Heart Letter, March 1995 v5 n7 p8 (1)


This study tested anxiety levels during preoperative stage, by testing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels at four different time points. The results indicated that anxiety levels were lower at a statistically significant difference from control group. Blood pressure and heart rate were significantly lower in the study group compared to the control group, bringing these vital signs to normal values at the crucial time-point in the anesthetic room. "The Effect of Visual and Performing Arts on the Preoperative Stage.",

"The Effect of Visual and Performing Arts on the Preoperative Stage"

Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, London


Improved Heart Health

This study indicates that music listening may have a positive effect on stress management, heart rate, blood pressure, and emotional state. Music with a steady beat gives perception of connectedness and motion. Sedative music decreased anxiety by 93% (Knight & Rickard (2001) and stimulative music increased hormonal output (Zimny & Weidenfeller, 1963).

"Heart Health and Music: A Steady Beat or Irregular Rhythm?" by L. Kay Metzger

Music Therapy Perspectives 22(1) 21-25


Peaceful Passing

HallwayStudy concludes that music is a useful therapeutic intervention that can improve quality of life for dying patients. Physiologic mechanisms in response to carefully chosen musical selections help to alleviate pain, anxiety, nausea, and induce sleep. Expression of feelings enhances mood. Music, a universal language, is an important clinical adjunct that addresses individual and family needs, thereby assisting patients to achieve a peaceful death.

"Restoring the spirit at the end of life: music as an intervention for oncology nurses," by Halstead MT, Roscoe ST.

Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, Nov- Dec 2002; 6(6):332-6


Positive "Side Effects" - Hospital Staff

The purpose of the study was to determine the effect of the arts as they contribute to staff satisfaction, and the implications for recruitment and retention. Responses from 325 subjects, indicated that integration of the arts "greatly influences their job decisions." Results indicated that "the integration of the visual and performing arts into the healthcare environment is essential for bringing job satisfaction and it may help in the recruitment and retention of staff."

Staricoff, R. L. 1999-2002

Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, London


Infant Effective

Monitor This study showed that premature infants in neonatal units benefited from live singing of lullabies and multimodal stimulation. Neonates who received live music showed increased weight gain and heightened tolerance to stimulation. Female infants who received live music experienced a significant reduction in days to discharge.

"The Effect of Music and Multimodal Stimulation on Responses of Premature Infants in Neonatal Intensive Care," by J. M. Standley

Pediatric Nursing, Nov-Dec; 24(6): 532-8


Study shows positive effects of lullabies on oxygen saturation rate, respiratory rate, and heart rates in infants.

"The effect of Music Listening on Physiological Responses of Premature Infants, in the NICU," Cassidy, J. W., & Standley, J. M. (1995)


Research at Meir Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel, concludes that compared with recorded music or no music therapy, live music therapy is associated with reduced heart rate and deeper sleep at 30 minutes after therapy in stable preterm infants. Both recorded and no music therapies had no significant effect on the tested physiological and behavioral parameters.

"Live music is beneficial to preterm infants," by Arnon,S, Shapsa A, Forman L, Regev R, Bauer S, Litmanovitz I, Dolfin T.

Birth, June 2006, 33(2):131-6