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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • music therapy;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • pain;
  • spinal surgery

Aims and objectives.  The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of music therapy on anxiety, postoperative pain and physiological reactions to emotional and physical distress in patients undergoing spinal surgery.

Background.  Surgery-related anxiety and pain are the greatest concern of surgical patients, especially for those undergoing major procedures.

Design.  A quasi-experimental study design was conducted in a medical centre in Taiwan from April–July 2006.

Methods.  Sixty patients were recruited. The study group listened to selected music from the evening before surgery to the second day after surgery. The control group did not listen to music. Patients’ levels of anxiety and pain were measured with visual analogue scales (VAS). Physiological measures, including heart rate, blood pressure and 24-hour urinalysis, were performed.

Results.  The average age of the 60 patients was 62·18 (SD 18·76) years. The mean VAS score for degree of anxiety in the study group was 0·8–2·0, compared with 2·1–5·1 in the control group. The mean VAS score for degree of pain in the study group was 1·7–3·0, compared with 4·4–6·0 in the control group. The differences between the two groups in VAS scores for both anxiety (= 0·018–0·001) and pain (= 0·001) were statistically significant. One hour after surgery, the mean blood pressure was significantly lower in the study group than in the control group (= 0·014), but no significant differences were found between the two groups in urine cortisol (= 0·145–0·495), norepinephrine (= 0·228–0·626) or epinephrine values (= 0·074–0·619).

Conclusions.  Music therapy has some positive effects on levels of anxiety and pain in patients undergoing spinal surgery.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Complementary music therapy can alleviate pain and anxiety in patients before and after spinal surgery.