Music boosts recovery from surgery, reduces pain

Woman listening music, selective focus, canon 1Ds mark III

Woman listening music, selective focus, canon 1Ds mark III

While the study found listening to music at any time seemed effective, there was a trend for better outcomes if patients listened to music before surgery rather than during or after.

And when patients selected their own music, there was a slightly greater reduction in pain and in use of pain relief.

"We have known since the time of Florence Nightingale that listening to music has a positive impact on patients during surgery, by making them feel calmer and reducing pain," said Martin Hirsch of Queen Mary University of London, who co-led the work. "However, it's taken pulling together all the small studies ... into one robust meta-analysis to really prove it works."

Paul Glasziou of Australia's Bond University said the results held a clear message: "Music is a simple and cheap intervention," he wrote in a comment in The Lancet. "A drug with similar effects might generate substantial marketing."

The team now plans to follow up with a pilot scheme introducing music at The Royal London Hospital for women having Caesarean sections and women having hysteroscopy.

Patients will submit their playlist on a device of their choice to be connected to a pillow with inbuilt loudspeakers, and the researchers will then analyze the effectiveness of rolling this out in practice.