Music in the Emergency Room May Improve Performance

From a study by Gatti MF, and da Silva MJ:

Due to the assistant characteristic of the emergency service, the health professional experiences countless situations that generate anxiety. This study aimed to learn the professionals’ perception about the presence of classical music in the working environment. The sample was composed of 49 professionals of the adult emergency department of a medium sized private hospital. The data were collected through a questionnaire to evaluate the professional’s perception. The results showed that 78% of the professionals noticed alteration in the atmosphere when the music was present, 41% believed that the music altered their personal performance; 85% believed it altered their performance in a positive way and 15% in a negative way. Regarding the musical repertoire, 61% of the individuals affirmed they enjoyed the selection, 96% believed that the ambient music should be kept, while 76% of the interviewees suggested other musical genres.

Emergency rooms are stressful places, to be sure, and so it is no real surprise to me that after all the operating room studies and stress studies, that classical music would significantly improve performance in professionals in this situation. I would really have liked to see in this study more than filling out a questionnaire: rather, whether the professionals actually did improve their performance, measured by patient outcomes.

black and white photograph, woman with quizzical expression in 1920s day dress plays violin, brown and white dog sits up with its front paws over its ears

Dogmatic Response
Margaret Chute

Even more interesting to me is that musical preferences seem to be so deeply rooted that even if a type of music has a particular outcome, that people are more interested in having their personal preference played than in having music played that achieves the desired outcome. I believe this is why people are, in general, so reluctant to switch over to classical music, despite the proven health benefits. Are you one of those people? If so, I urge you to give classical music a try. Just as you don’t care for every single song of whatever genre you typically listen to, even we professional classical musicians, who love our jobs, don’t like every single selection we hear. So please, don’t be ready to dismiss a millenium of music because you don’t like one or two pieces that you were telling yourself you weren’t going to like, anyway.

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