Savage beast: thy name is chronic pain. Some work coming out of the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western University in the June issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing suggests that listening to music for an hour a day can decrease pain and associated depression.
Patients in one group picked their favorite music or nature sounds to listen to for an hour every day. They could pick upbeat tunes or slower sounds — whatever they wanted.
Patients in another group chose from relaxing instrumental music supplied by the researchers. For comparison, patients in the third group weren’t asked to listen to music during the study
Here are details on the improvements seen in the music groups’ surveys:
* Average pain ratings fell by about 20%.
* Average depression scores fell by up to 25%.
* Average self-rated disability dropped by up to 18%.
* Feelings of empowerment rose by up to 8%.
Did it matter if patients selected their own music? Probably not. Any differences between the two music groups’ average improvements may have been due to chance, the study shows.
Musical style apparently didn’t matter, either. “A variety of different music selections and styles, some with lyrics and some without, were found to be effective in this study,” the researchers write.
The researchers aren’t suggesting that music can totally erase pain, and they’re not suggesting it as a replacement for standard pain care. But music might be a harmless addition to treatment, the study shows.
“Music is safe, inexpensive, and easy for nurses to teach patients to use,” write Siedliecki and Good. They note that nurses can help patients find and use music to help deal with chronic, nonmalignant pain. In doing so, nurses should be sensitive to patients’ musical preferences, the researchers add.
Exactly how music helped the patients cope with chronic pain isn’t known, or if the rest they got while listening to the music made a difference.
WebMD does a good job of paraphrasing technical literature with this article. Wording such as “Any differences between the two music groups’ average improvements may have been due to chance, the study shows” translates an insignificant t-test without muddling the meaning. Also, pointing out the presence of a control group takes the reporting a step farther than your average AP health article.