Art, Music, Dance

Does music benefit patients on a respirator?

This Cochrane review examined the effects of music on anxiety and physiological responses in mechanically ventilated patients.

First, the details.

  • 8 studies of 213 participants were included in the review.
    • 7 studies did not include a trained music therapist.
  • Music listening was the main treatment used.
  • Most studies examined the effects of listening to pre-recorded music.

And, the results.

  • Results indicate that music listening may reduce anxiety in mechanically ventilated patients.
  • Listening to music consistently reduced heart rate and respiratory rate, suggesting a relaxation response.
  • No strong evidence was found for blood pressure reduction.
  • Music listening did not improve oxygen saturation level — an indicator of the percentage of hemoglobin saturated with oxygen
  • No studies examined the effects of music on quality of life, patient satisfaction, post-discharge outcomes, mortality, or cost-effectiveness.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Music listening may have a beneficial effect on heart rate, respiratory rate, and anxiety in mechanically ventilated patients. However, the quality of the evidence is not strong.”

The results should be interpreted with caution due to the small number of patients studied. In addition, the authors recommend; “more research… on the effects of music offered by a trained music therapist.”

12/13/10 20:58 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.