Musicians Can Alleviate Distress

From a study by Caprilli S, Anastasi F, Grotto RP, Abeti MS, Messeri A.:

OBJECTIVE: The experience of venipuncture is seen by children as one of the most fearful experiences during hospitalization. Children experience anxiety both before and during the procedure. Therefore, any intervention aiming to prevent or reduce distress should focus on the entire experience of the procedure, including waiting, actual preparation, and conclusion. This study was designed to determine whether the presence of musicians, who had attended specific training to work in medical settings, could reduce distress and pain in children undergoing blood tests.
METHODS: Our sample population was composed of 108 unpremedicated children (4-13 years of age) undergoing blood tests. They were randomly assigned to a music group (n=54), in which the child underwent the procedure while interacting with the musicians in the presence of a parent or to a control group (n=54), in which only the parent provided support to the child during the procedure. The distress experienced by the child before, during and after the blood test was assessed with the Amended Form of the Observation Scale of Behavioral Distress, and pain experience with FACES scale (Wong Baker Scale) only after the venipuncture.
RESULTS: Our results show that distress and pain intensity was significantly lower (p<.001; p<.05) in the music group compared with the control group before, during, and after blood sampling [emphasis added].
CONCLUSIONS: This controlled study demonstrates that songs and music, performed by “professional” musicians, have a beneficial effect in reducing distress before, during, and after blood tests. This study shows, moreover, that the presence of musicians has a minor, but yet significant, effect on pain due to needle insertion. [emphasis added]

Nurses explain to patient on operating table,

New Yorker Cartoon
George Booth

Here we see that children’s pain and distress can by significantly reduced by having them interact with musicians while undergoing medical procedures. Although, to be honest, I have no idea why the study authors (or perhaps the editor of the journal) felt the need to put quotation marks around the word “professional”! In any case, it’s clear that music (and musicians, “professional” or not), can make the medical procedures during hospitalization less traumatic.

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