Aims and objectives. To explore adolescents’ memories about music therapy after spinal fusion surgery and their recommendations for future patients.
Background. Spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is one of the most painful surgeries performed. Music therapy is shown to decrease postoperative pain in children after minor surgery. In preparation for developing a preoperative information program, we interviewed adolescents who had spinal fusion and postoperative music therapy to find out what they remembered and what they recommended for future patients.
Methods. Eight adolescents who had spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis were interviewed about their experiences. For this qualitative study, the investigators independently used thematic analysis techniques to formulate interpretive themes. Together they discussed their ideas and assigned overall meanings to the information.
Results. The eight participants were 13–17 years of age and had surgery between 2–24 months previously. The overarching themes identified from the interviews were relaxation and pain perception, choice and control, therapist interaction and preoperative information. Participants stated that music therapy helped with mental relaxation and distraction from pain. It was important to be able to choose the type of music for the therapy and to use self-control to focus on the positive. Their recommendation was that future patients should be provided with information preoperatively about music therapy and pain management. Participants recommended a combination of auditory and visual information, especially the experiences of previous patients who had spinal fusion and music therapy.
Conclusion. Music provided live at the bedside by a music therapist was remembered vividly and positively by most of the participants.
Relevance to clinical practice. The presence of a music therapist providing patient-selected music at the bedside is important. Methods to introduce adolescents to music therapy and how to use music for relaxation should be developed and tested.