Art, Music, DanceSurgery

Effect of music therapy in brain surgery

 In this study, live music improved quality of life in patients receiving elective surgery of the brain.

First, the details.

  • 27 patients hospitalized for a surgical procedure of the brain were randomly assigned to no music or pre and postoperative live music therapy sessions.
    • They listened to music they liked.
  • Anxiety, mood, pain, perception of hospitalization or procedure, relaxation, and stress were measured using patient-completed visual analog scales (VAS).
  • The music therapy group had live and interactive music therapy sessions, including a pre-operative session followed by daily sessions until the patient left the hospital.
  • The no music group received routine hospital care but no music therapy.

And, the results.

  • Music therapy showed significant benefit for 4 of 6 quality of life measures: anxiety, perception of hospitalization, relaxation, and stress.
  • No differences were found for mood or pain levels.
  • There was no difference in the use of nausea and pain medications between groups.
  • Length of hospitalization did not differ between groups.

The bottom line?
Nobody expected a panacea. However, some aspects of quality of life improved when patients listened to music they like.

Looking through past posts, others have reported that music makes it easier to exercise following total knee replacement. Another study reported that music therapy was associated with significant reductions in activity disturbances, aggressiveness, and anxiety in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Terrence Hays and colleagues from the University of New England in New South Wales, Australia have written that “From preliterate times to today, music has been associated with the maintenance of physical and mental well-being. Historical evidence shows that, since the first appearance of civilizations…, music has been used to serve communal purposes, for example, religious ritual, warfare, and healing.”

“From China to Egypt to India and to the golden age of Greece, there was a common belief that there was something immensely fundamental about the power of music. These civilizations believed that music could heal, entertain, control emotions, maintain social order, or degrade the individual’s psyche.”

When viewed from this perspective, the results from this study are not surprising.

11/2/08 15:23 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.