Effects of Music Listening on Pre-treatment Anxiety and Stress Levels in a Dental Hygiene Recall Population

Int J Behav Med. 2015 Aug;22(4):498-505. doi: 10.1007/s12529-014-9439-x.


Background: Waiting for a medical procedure can exert significant feelings of state anxiety in patients. Music listening has been shown to be effective in decreasing anxiety levels. No study so far examined the potential anxiety and stress-reducing effect of a music intervention on pre-treatment anxiety and stress in patients waiting for dental hygiene treatment. Knowing whether the anxiety-reducing effect of music would also be detectible in the context of preventive routine medical procedures in healthy individuals would widen the area of application of music from the hospital or clinical environment to medical offices in general.

Purpose: Waiting for a medical treatment can induce anxiety and may lead to the experience of stress. We set out to examine the effect of music on pre-treatment anxiety in a healthy patient sample waiting for a dental treatment.

Methods: In a randomized controlled clinical trial, 92 consecutive volunteer patients (mean age, 57 years) waiting for their scheduled dental hygiene treatment were randomly allocated to either an experimental (n = 46, listening to music for 10 min) or a control group (n = 46, waiting in silence). State and habitual anxiety, subjective stress, and mood measures were assessed before and after music listening or silence, respectively.

Results: State anxiety levels in the music group decreased significantly after intervention as compared to the control group (F(1/90) = 8.06; p = 0.006). Participants' trait anxiety and dental anxiety were not found to moderate this effect.

Conclusions: Listening to music prior to dental hygiene treatment decreases anxiety levels to a greater extent than waiting in silence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Dental Care / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music Therapy / methods*