Minimising preoperative anxiety with music for day surgery patients – a randomised clinical trial

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Aims and objectives.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of musical intervention on preoperative anxiety and vital signs in patients undergoing day surgery.


Studies and systematic meta-analyses have shown inconclusive results of the efficacy of music in reducing preoperative anxiety. We designed a study to provide additional evidence for its use in preoperative nursing care.


Randomised, controlled study.


Patients (n = 183) aged 18–65 admitted to our outpatient surgery department were randomly assigned to either the experimental group (music delivered by earphones) or control group (no music) for 20 minutes before surgery. Anxiety, measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and vital signs were measured before and after the experimental protocol.


A total of 172 patients (60 men and 112 women) with a mean age of 40·90 (SD 11·80) completed the study. The largest number (35·7%) was undergoing elective plastic surgery and 76·7% of the total reported previous experience with surgery. Even though there was only a low-moderate level of anxiety at the beginning of the study, both groups showed reduced anxiety and improved vital signs compared with baseline values; however, the intervention group reported significantly lower anxiety [mean change: −5·83 (SD 0·75) vs. −1·72 (SD 0·65), p < 0·001] on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory compared with the control group.


Patients undergoing day surgery may benefit significantly from musical intervention to reduce preoperative anxiety and improve physiological parameters.

Relevance to clinical practice.

Finding multimodal approaches to ease discomfort and anxiety from unfamiliar unit surroundings and perceived risks of morbidity (e.g. disfigurement and long-term sequelae) is necessary to reduce preoperative anxiety and subsequent physiological complications. This is especially true in the day surgery setting, where surgical admission times are often subject to change and patients may have to accommodate on short notice or too long a wait that may provoke anxiety. Our results provide additional evidence that musical intervention may be incorporated into routine nursing care for patients undergoing minor surgery.

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