Healing Through Sounds: Music Therapy Research of the Literature. Tracy Tran. University of San Francisco






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Healing Through Sounds: Music Therapy Research of the Literature Tracy Tran


Healing Through Sounds: Music Therapy Research of the Literature “Music is a therapy. It is a communication far more powerful than words, far more

immediate, far more efficient (Menuhin, 2012).” Music is a therapy with the potential to improve health and pain management in post-operative patients in the hospital. We are curious about how music therapy can help improve the pain in the hospital setting, so we asked the PICOT question; In post-operative surgical patients, how does the use of music therapy compared to no music therapy affect pain management during hospitalization? In order to answer our question, we searched for peer-reviewed articles within various databases to review and analyze.

Search for Literature

As music therapy is a type of a nursing intervention, it is important to search for scholarly articles using specific terms. We went to the USF Gleeson Library Nursing & Health Science databases and used CIHANL, PubMed, and Scopus to look for our articles. The terms that we used to search for articles related to our question were “music therapy and pain management”, “music therapy”, “music therapy and pain”, “pain”, “pain management”, “surgical patients”, “post-operative”, “post-op” , “surgery”, “hospitalized patients”, and “pain medication

administration.” From the search, we were able to get a range from 17 to 300 articles depending on the various ways the terms were used. We did not limit the publication date in the databases, which were from 1986 to 2014, unless we wanted articles that are more recent. Some articles that came up in the results did not relate to our patient population, therefore we reviewed the articles carefully before choosing the articles for our literature review. By using specific terms, we were able to carefully select articles that we needed to answer our question.

Reviewing the Literature

From the articles that we found, we chose eight articles to review and analyze the effects of music therapy on pain. The articles that we chose were four experimental design studies, two


prospective clinical studies, one systematic literature search, and one randomized controlled trial study. In the experimental studies, the articles were based on determining how music affects pain in post-operative patients who had total knee arthroplasty, cardiac, oncology, laparotomy, or abdominal surgery (Alfred, 2010; Comeaux, 2013; Jose, 2012; Vaajoki, 2012, The impact; Vaajoki, 2013). The two prospective clinical studies were about the assessment of how music affects the pain intensity and distress (Vaajoki, 2012, Effect), and the length of hospital stay and analgesic use after surgery (Vaajoki, 2012, The impact). In the systematic literature search article, the researchers determined all the studies that have been done on music therapy on four different databases and analyzed the evidence to support that “music [therapy] can reduce post-operative pain” (Economidou, 2012). Lastly, the randomized controlled trial study showed how they assessed the effect of music, relaxation, and the combination of both on pain sensation and distress on women who had gynecologic surgery (Good, 2002). We chose these eight articles because we were able to get a variety of surgical patients and methods of research, in addition to how it could affect nursing interventions for pain management. These studies have given us more knowledge about the use of music therapy and its effect on pain.

Through our search and analysis of the articles, we were able to select eight different articles, using a variety of specific terms, to review, analyze, and conclude an answer to our question. To understand how music therapy affects pain management, we searched and selected the articles that were needed to help us with our question. From the process, we concluded that it is not necessary to alter our PICOT question because the literature selected addressed all parts of our research question.



Allred, K., Byers, J., Sole, M. (2010). The effect of music on postoperative pain and anxiety. Pain Management Nursing, 11(1), 15-25.

Comeaux, T., & Steele-Moses, S. (2013). The effect of complementary music therapy on the patient's postoperative state anxiety, pain control, and environmental noise satisfaction. MEDSURG Nursing, 22(5), 313-318.

Economidou, E., Klimi, A., Vivilaki, V., Lykeridou, K. (2012). Does music reduce postoperative

pain? A review. Health Science Journal, 6(3), 365-377.

Good, M., Anderson, G., Stanton-Hicks, M., Grass, J., & Makii, M. (2002). Relaxation and

music reduce pain after gynecologic surgery. Pain Management Nursing 3(2), 61-70.

Jose, J., Verma, M., & Arora, S. (2012). An experimental study to assess the effectiveness of music therapy on the post operative pain perception of patients following cardiac

surgery in a selected hospital of New Delhi. International Journal Of Nursing Education,

4(2), 198-201.

Menuhin, Y. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.resoundingjoyinc.org/

Vaajoki, A., Pietilä, A., Kankkunen, P., & Vehviläinen-Julkunen, K. (2012). Effects of listening

to music on pain intensity and pain distress after surgery: an intervention. Journal Of

Clinical Nursing, 21(5/6), 708-717. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03829.x

Vaajoki, A., Kankkunen, P., Pietilä, A., Kokki, H., & Vehviläinen-Julkunen, K. (2012). The impact of listening to music on analgesic use and length of hospital stay while recovering

from laparotomy. Gastroenterology 35(4), 279-284.

Vaajoki, A., Pietilä, A., Kankkunen, P., & Vehviläinen-Julkunen, K. (2013). Music intervention study in abdominal surgery patients: Challenges of an intervention study in clinical


practice. International Journal Of Nursing Practice, 19(2), 206-213. doi:10.1111/ijn.12052





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