Playing Music for Hospitalized Patients Enhances Mood and Reduces Perceptions of Pain

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Abstract

Objectives

For most people, music serves as a calming influence or as a pleasurable stimulus that lifts their spirits. In an attempt to both distract and cheer up hospitalized patients, we designed a brief intervention that would bring music to their hospital rooms in attempt to enhance their mood and minimize their awareness of pain.

Methods

In this prospective study of adult patients on the general medicine ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital, we assessed the impact of self-selected music delivery on patients’ mood and their perception of pain. Patients’ mood and pain were assessed using the modified Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Verbal Numerical Rating Scale, a validated 10-point Likert pain scale.

Results

Of the 151 patients studied, their mean age was 57 years, 57% were women, and 65% were white. Ninety-seven percent of patients described listening to music regularly at home, but only 28% of patients reported that they had listened to any music since being in the hospital (P < 0.0001). The patients’ modified Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale score and pain score were decreased significantly (−4.99, standard error 0.45, P < 0.0001, and −0.72, standard error 1.51, P < 0.0001, respectively) after listening to a couple of their favorite songs.

Conclusions

This study demonstrates that bringing music to hospitalized patients and encouraging them to listen to their favorite songs are genuinely appreciated. If this intervention can enhance moods and reduce pain for patients in the hospital, then directing resources to make it sustainable may be justified.

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