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Music and its effect on the physiological responses and anxiety levels of patients receiving mechanical ventilation: a pilot study


  • On Kei Angela Lee RN,

  • Yuet Foon Loretta Chung BHS, MEd, PhD, RN, RM, RSCN,

  • Moon Fai Chan PhD,

  • Wai Ming Chan MRCP

Loretta YF Chung
School of Nursing
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Hung Hom, Kowloon
Hong Kong, SAR
Telephone: 852 27664130


Aims and objectives.  The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of music on the anxiety of patients on mechanical ventilation, as assessed by objective parameters and a subjective validated anxiety scale.

Background.  Mechanical ventilation, although sometimes lifesaving, is often associated with levels of anxiety requiring sedatives, which has inevitable implications on costs and complications.

Design.  A randomized controlled trial design.

Methods.  A total of 64 subjects was randomly assigned to undergo either 30 minutes of music intervention or a rest period. The subjects were asked to answer the Chinese State Trait Anxiety Inventory scale before and after the study period and physiological indices and resting behaviours were recorded before and after the study period in both groups. The subjects’ satisfaction with music was also obtained after music intervention.

Results.  The findings indicate that patients on mechanical ventilation that listened to a single 30-minute session of music appeared to show greater relaxation as manifested by a decrease in physiological indices and an increase in comfortable resting behaviours.

Conclusion.  Music can provide an effective method of reducing potentially harmful physiological responses arising from anxiety in mechanically ventilated patients.

Relevance to clinical practice.  As indicated by the results of this study, music therapy can act as a simple and safe nursing intervention to allay anxiety and promote patient comfort. Interest and comments on music therapy provided as a relaxation technique should be elicited from both nurses and patients.

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