Musical preference correlates closely to professional roles and specialties in operating room: A multicenter cross-sectional cohort study with 672 participants

Surgery. 2016 May;159(5):1260-8. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2015.10.031. Epub 2015 Dec 23.


Background: It is unclear whether music preferences and perceptions in the operating room (OR) differ by demographic and professional factors and how an improved understanding of these potential differences can be leveraged to enhance team dynamics and the OR work environment. Currently, there is limited knowledge regarding the impact of music on OR team concentration and communication.

Methods: This study was a multicenter, cross-sectional study of 282 preoperative patients and 390 providers-attending physicians, residents, and nurses in anesthesiology and surgery. Patient and provider responses were measured using a newly developed questionnaire.

Results: Patients who highly enjoyed music felt music alleviated stress and enhanced concentration and communication and favored use of music in the OR. The genres favored most by patients were rock music (32%), classical music (28%), and top 40 hits (26%). All providers reported a high frequency of use of music during the operation. Nurses and residents were more likely than attendings to report high enjoyment of music in the OR (P < .02). Surgeons and anesthesiologists had high median scores for enjoyment of music and low median scores for music as distraction. Anesthesiologists preferred classical and jazz/blues at lower volumes compared with surgeons, who favored top 40 music at higher noise pressure levels. Patients and providers perceived music to improve provider concentration and team communication; nurses held the most positive views.

Conclusion: Musical preferences and perceptions of the effect of music in the OR differ by both professional status and specialty and provide insight into broader team dynamics that could be leveraged potentially to optimize the OR environment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attention
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Music / psychology*
  • Operating Rooms*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Preference / psychology*
  • Professional Role / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative
  • Surveys and Questionnaires