Providing patients with an opportunity to listen to music during advanced imaging such as MRI scans is well accepted. Now, according to a recent Lancet systematic review/meta-analysis, it may be time to extend that same opportunity to surgical patients. In the Lancet study, patients who listened to music around the time of surgery were found to experience less postoperative pain, analgesia use, and anxiety. Although the choice and timing of music had little difference on outcomes, there was a trend toward greater benefits from listening to music before surgery.
Each of the 73 randomized trials included in the analysis compared the use of music before, during, and/or after surgery with other non-drug interventions such as white noise or bed rest. While only four of the studies focused on orthopaedic procedures, the authors claimed that the preponderance of data shows “that music should be available to all patients undergoing operative procedures.”
The authors attempted to compensate for the heterogeneity of the combined data by performing a random-effects meta-analysis, but they conceded that a single, large randomized trial would be the best way to address heterogeneity when studying the effects of music on surgical patients.