Effectiveness of music therapy for alleviating pain during haemodialysis access cannulation for patients undergoing haemodialysis: a multi-facility, single-blind, randomised controlled trial

Trials. 2019 Nov 19;20(1):631. doi: 10.1186/s13063-019-3773-x.


Background: Repeated pain during haemodialysis access cannulations is a serious problem for haemodialysis patients even when prescribed oral or topical analgesics. Although some studies have observed the efficacy of music therapy for improving pain and anxiety, its effectiveness during haemodialysis access cannulations during dialysis is uncertain. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of music therapy for pain when cannulating haemodialysis access for haemodialysis patients.

Methods: A prospective, multi-facility, single-blind, crossover, randomised controlled trial will be implemented. The intervention includes listening to Mozart, along with a white noise control condition. One hundred twenty haemodialysis patients will be enrolled across five facilities. Patients will be randomly allocated to either an Early-sequence group or a Later-sequence group. The Early-sequence group will receive cannulation while listening to Mozart's Sonata for two pianos in D major (K.448) during the second week (Music period) and white noise during the fourth week (White noise period). The Later-sequence group will receive cannulation along with white noise first, followed by Mozart. All patients will also undergo cannulation during a no-sound period (wearing only headphones) during the first and third week (No-sound period). The music or no-music protocol will begin 8 min prior to the cannulating procedure, and participants will finish listening after starting haemodialysis during each period. The primary outcomes that will be assessed include the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score for pain during cannulation, and secondary outcomes are blood pressure, heart rate, VAS anxiety score, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory score, and salivary amylase activity. The operators who are in charge of haemodialysis access cannulation will be blind to the listening condition and VAS report.

Discussion: The proposed study has several methodological benefits. First, using white noise is a suitable control condition for addressing the role of sound in pain management. Additionally, using a crossover design with repeated measurements can help control individual differences between participants, which should better distinguish between- and within-participant variability. Overall, music therapy is a safe and inexpensive intervention that does not have the problematic side effects typically associated with pharmacological treatment. If effective, music therapy can be easily implemented for reducing pain and anxiety during cannulation.

Trial registration: This trial was prospectively registered to UMIN Clinical Trials Registry on 1 July 2018 (UMIN 000032850).

Keywords: Anxiety; Cannulation; Haemodialysis; Music therapy; Pain; Visual Analogue Scale.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Humans
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Research Design
  • Single-Blind Method