Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the effects of music on stress indices and to examine the association between music preference and stress.
Background: Although clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of music on stress, study results have been inconsistent. At the time of writing, no known publications had investigated the effects of preferred music on workers in high-stress professions such as nursing.
Methods: Using a randomized crossover controlled trial, 54 nurses were randomly assigned to a music/chair rest sequence or chair rest/music sequence during the period February to June 2006. Each intervention lasted for 30 minutes. Participants in the music condition listened to self-selected soothing music using headphones for 30 minutes. In the chair rest condition, participants sat quietly for 30 minutes. Serial measurements of participants' heart rate, mean arterial pressure, finger temperature and cortisol levels were taken with a BP monitor and chemillumincent immunoassay every 15 minutes throughout the procedure.
Findings: Compared with chair rest, participants had a lower perceived stress level, cortisol, heart rate, mean arterial pressure and higher finger temperature while listening to music (P < 0·05). Significant differences were also found between the two conditions in terms of post-test heart rate, cortisol levels, finger temperature and mean arterial pressure (P < 0·05). Music preference scores ranged between 7 and 10, with a mean score of 8·81 (sd = 1·05), and was significantly associated with mean arterial pressure, cortisol levels, self-perceived stress and finger temperature.
Conclusion: The findings provided evidence for nurses to use soothing music as a research-based nursing intervention for stress reduction.
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Advanced Nursing © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.