Music in theatre: not so harmonious

a survey of attitudes to music played in the operating theatre


C. Hawksworth   University Department of Anaesthesia, Western Infirmary, Dumbarton Road, Glasgow G11 6NT, UK


Music played to staff in the operating theatre is thought to improve surgeons’ concentration but its effects on other theatre staff are unknown. We surveyed 200 anaesthetists to determine the prevalence of music playing in the operating theatre and anaesthetists’ attitudes to it. The response rate was 72% and of these 72% (104) worked in a theatre where music was played regularly. Around 26% of the sample felt that music reduced their vigilance and impaired their communication with other staff while 11.5% felt that music might distract their attention from alarms. Fifty-one per cent felt that music was distracting when a problem was encountered during the anaesthetic.