Effect of the combination of music and nature sounds on pain and anxiety in cardiac surgical patients: a randomized study

Altern Ther Health Med. 2011 Jul-Aug;17(4):16-23.


Background: Postoperative pain and anxiety are common in cardiac surgery patients. Studies have suggested that music can decrease anxiety in hospitalized patients. Primary Study Objective This study focused on the efficacy and feasibility of special music, which included nature sounds, for pain and anxiety.

Methods/design: In this randomized controlled trial, postoperative cardiovascular surgery patients were randomly assigned to a music group to receive 20 minutes of standard postoperative care and music twice daily on postoperative days 2 through 4 or to a control group to receive 20 minutes of standard care with a quiet resting period twice daily on postoperative days 2 through 4.

Setting: Cardiovascular surgical unit of Saint Marys Hospital, Rochester, Minnesota.

Participants: One hundred patients completed the study (music group, n = 49; control group, n = 51). Intervention The music was delivered through CD players in the patients' rooms.

Primary outcome measures: Pain, anxiety, satisfaction, and relaxation were evaluated from visual analog scales.

Results: Data showed a significant decrease in mean (SD) pain scores after the second session of day 2 for the music group (change, ?1.4 [1.4]) compared with the control group (change, ?0.4 [1.4]) (P = .001). Mean relaxation scores improved more at the first session of day 2 for the music group (change, 1.9 [2.7]) compared with the control group (change, 0.3 [2.9]) (P = .03). The music group also showed lower anxiety and increased satisfaction overall, but these differences were not statistically significant. No major barriers to using the therapy were identified.

Conclusion: Recorded music and nature sounds can be integrated into the postoperative care of cardiovascular surgery patients. The recordings may provide an additional means for addressing common symptoms of pain and anxiety while providing a means of relaxation for these patients.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Nature*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Sound
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome