A team of Cochrane researchers has revealed the benefits of listening to music for patients on mechanical ventilation.
The team was led by Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions associate professor Dr. Joke Bradt.
Mechanical ventilation often causes major distress and anxiety in patients. The sensation of breathlessness, frequent suctioning, inability to talk, uncertainty regarding surroundings or condition, discomfort, isolation from others, and fear all contribute to high levels of anxiety.
Medications administered to reduce anxiety may lead to increased hospital stays and medical costs.
But the new study showed that listening to music benefited patients by reducing anxiety, which led to fewer complications.
"With all these factors making mechanical ventilation a highly stressful experience, it is exciting that music may provide a way to reduce anxiety in these patients without costly side effects," said Bradt.
The researchers reviewed data from eight trials involving 213 patients in total. Patients, who had various conditions, including lung disease, cardiac disease and trauma injuries, all received mechanical breathing support via mouth, nose, or tracheotomy or artificial opening in the neck.
In seven trials, patients listened to pre-recorded music and in the remaining trial a trained music therapist provided live music with a tempo matched to the respiratory rate of the patient.
On average, listening to music reduced anxiety compared to standard care. It also reduced heart and breathing rates, although not blood pressure.
"These results look promising, 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," said Bradt.
"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."