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Summary

Pre-operative anxiety is common and often significant. Ambulatory surgery challenges our pre-operative goal of an anxiety-free patient by requiring people to be ‘street ready’ within a brief period of time after surgery. Recently, it has been demonstrated that music can be used successfully to relieve patient anxiety before operations, and that audio embedded with tones that create binaural beats within the brain of the listener decreases subjective levels of anxiety in patients with chronic anxiety states. We measured anxiety with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory questionnaire and compared binaural beat audio (Binaural Group) with an identical soundtrack but without these added tones (Audio Group) and with a third group who received no specific intervention (No Intervention Group). Mean [95% confidence intervals] decreases in anxiety scores were 26.3%[19–33%] in the Binaural Group (p = 0.001 vs. Audio Group, p < 0.0001 vs. No Intervention Group), 11.1%[6–16%] in the Audio Group (p = 0.15 vs. No Intervention Group) and 3.8%[0–7%] in the No Intervention Group. Binaural beat audio has the potential to decrease acute pre-operative anxiety significantly.