Listening to music may relax patients on mechanical ventilators, potentially reducing any associated complications, according to a review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2010; , CD006902; doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006902.pub2). Studies show that by relieving anxiety and stress, music therapy can improve coordination and motor skills, enhance the well-being of patients suffering from cognitive disorders and complement treatment for cancer and other conditions. Other benefits include the lack of side effects and the low implementation cost.
Researchers led by Joke Bradt, PhD, board-certified music therapist with expertise in medical music therapy and an associate professor at Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Philadelphia, reviewed eight trials involving a total of 213 participants. Seven studies did not include trained music therapists; most did not include live music; and little detail was offered regarding specific music selections, with only general styles noted, such as “classical” and “easy listening.” Based on their review, the investigators concluded that listening to music appeared to benefit heart rate, respiratory rate and anxiety in patients on ventilators.
“These results look promising,” said Bradt, “but we need more trials to strengthen the evidence and we would certainly be interested in seeing more research on live music interventions provided by trained music therapists. Since music listening is an easy treatment to provide, we do recommend that music be offered as a form of stress management for critically ill patients.”