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Effect of Music on Pain and Anxiety After Surgery

This study has been terminated.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: August 2, 2011
Last updated: August 9, 2017
Last verified: August 8, 2017


- Studies have shown that listening to music can decrease pain and anxiety. Following surgery, patients in intensive care units (ICUs) often need drugs to treat their pain and anxiety. But these drugs can cause side effects such as low blood pressure and confusion. If listening to music can help lower pain and anxiety levels, less medication might be needed and these side effects could be avoided.


- To determine the effects of music on patient pain and anxiety in the first few days after surgery.


- Individuals at least 18 years of age who are scheduled to have surgery that requires a 24-48-hour stay in intensive care afterward.


  • All participants will be screened with a medical history before having surgery.
  • Participants will be divided into two groups: one group will listen to music after surgery, and the other will not.
  • Before surgery, participants will answer questions about their pain and anxiety levels. They will also be shown how to control the device that lets them administer their own pain medication after surgery.
  • Following surgery, all participants will be transferred to the ICU and will answer the same questions about pain and anxiety levels.
  • The music group will listen to a specially created CD of instrumental music for about 50 minutes, four times a day. The standard group will not listen to this music. All other treatments will be the same in both groups. Both groups will continue to answer the same questions about pain and anxiety levels.
  • Participants will have a final 15- to 20-minute interview after leaving the ICU. They will answer questions about the ICU stay and (for those in the music listening group) the music.

Condition Intervention Phase
Postop Adult ICU Patients Other: Music Phase 3

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Other
Official Title: The Effect of Music Listening on the Amount of Opioids Used in Surgical Intensive Care Patients

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Opiate use [ Time Frame: 48 hours in the ICU ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Pain, anxiety and distress outcome measures [ Time Frame: 48 hours in the ICU ]

Enrollment: 62
Study Start Date: June 17, 2011
Study Completion Date: August 8, 2017
Primary Completion Date: May 9, 2013 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Music
Research participant listened to music
Other: Music
Music listening for the treatment group. Music is from MusicCure selection "Dreams". Outocmes are compared to control group who receives no music. Subjects are randomized Post-operatively.

Detailed Description:


  • Listening to music is a common human activity. Music listening has been associated with decreased pain scores, increase in attentiveness and decrease in anxiety scores. Recently, with interest in holistic and complementary and alternative therapies, there has been increased awareness of the potential positive health effects of music listening.
  • Inadequate pain management remains common especially in postoperative patients. Acute perioperative pain affects over 46 million Americans every year.
  • As music is processed by the limbic system, enkephalins and endorphins are released. These substances are natural occurring opioids, suggesting music may decrease patient s requirements for opioids.

Primary Objective:

To determine the effects of music listening on the amount of opioids delivered postoperatively to adult ICU patients via patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) during the first 48 hours.

Secondary Objective:

To determine the effects of music listening on pain and anxiety scores experienced by adult surgical patients during the first 48 hours postoperatively in the ICU.


-All adult patients (18 years of age or greater) who are scheduled for surgery that have an anticipated ICU stay of 24-48 hours.


The design is a two-group randomized controlled trial. The two groups are:

  • Treatment -Music group - intervention music delivered for approximately 50 minutes 4 times a day
  • Control - Standard care

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 99 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
  • Adult surgical patients hospitalized in the NIH, Clinical Center (CC) who have an anticipated ICU stay of 24-48 hours postoperatively and the planned postoperative pain management schema includes opioids delivered via intravenous or epidural PCA device.
  • General surgery, urology and thoracic surgery patients
  • Oriented to person, time and place
  • Age greater than or equal to 18 years
  • Understands and speaks English or Spanish


  • Scheduled for a neurosurgical procedure
  • Hearing or visually Impaired
  • Diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or patients who score greater than or equal to 15 on the GAD-7 screening instrument.
  • Speaks language other than Spanish or English
  • Intubated for greater than 4 hours post-operatively
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01409044

United States, Maryland
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
Principal Investigator: Nancy Ames, R.N. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
  More Information

Responsible Party: National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier: NCT01409044     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 110201
Study First Received: August 2, 2011
Last Updated: August 9, 2017

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA)
Music Listening
Post Surgical Intensive Care Patient
Patient-Controlled Analgesia processed this record on September 21, 2017