HealthDay News — Listening to music may help combat postoperative pain, anxiety, and analgesia use, according to a review published online in The Lancet.

Jenny Hole, MBBS, from Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine whether music improved recovery after surgical procedures. Data were included from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of adult patients undergoing surgical procedures, excluding those involving the central nervous system or head and neck. Trials in which any form of music was initiated before, during, or after surgery were compared with standard care or other non-drug interventions (headphones with no music, white noise, and undisturbed bed rest). Seventy-three RCTs were included in the systematic review, with size varying from 20 to 458 participants.

There was variation in choice of music timing and duration. The researchers found that music reduced postoperative pain, anxiety, and analgesia use (standardized mean differences [SMDs], −0.77, −0.68, and −0.37, respectively) and increased patient satisfaction (SMD, 1.09). There was no difference in length of stay (SMD, −0.11). The choice of music and timing of delivery had little impact on outcomes. Even when patients were under general anesthesia, music was effective.

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“Music could be offered as a way to help patients reduce pain and anxiety during the postoperative period,” the authors write.


  1. Hole J et al. The Lancet. 2015; doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60169-6.