Study reveals benefits of music for patients on ventilation machines

The benefits of listening to music for patients on ventilation machines have been revealed in a new study.

Mechanical ventilation often causes major distress and anxiety in patients, but research from Cochrane Library in the US in Philadelphia found that listening to music may relax patients and potentially result in fewer complications.

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.

Lead researcher Dr. Joke Bradt, from Drexel University in Philadelphia, said:  “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 Dr 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.

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