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Cancer Patients Use Music to Soothe Presurgical Anxiety

Cancer Patients Use Music to Soothe Presurgical Anxiety

NEW ORLEANS—Surgical oncol-ogy patients appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of listening to music before and after their surgery. Besides its soothing powers, music may help in pain control, offering a cost-effective intervention, investigators reported at the Oncology Nursing Society.

Music has been shown to have beneficial effects on the human spirit and to impact on quality of life; however, the provision of music in hospital settings is not commonplace.

Since patients experience stress both from their cancer and from surgical procedures, investigators from Memorial Sloan-Kettering evaluated the impact of music in the surgical oncology setting. Maureen Cunningham, RN, presented the program at a poster session.

Fifty preoperative patients waiting in the operating room (OR) reception area were evenly divided into two groups: the music group (listening to music until they entered the operating room) and the no-music group.

All patients in the music group listened to the same music—Dr. H.L. Bonny’s “Music Rx” Classical tape #3—via cassette players during this pilot phase and later via individual compact disc (CD) players.

Of those patients who listening to music in the waiting area, 92% said they enjoyed the music, and half wanted to listen to music during their surgery as well (although they questioned whether they would really hear the music).

About half the nonlisteners also expressed a desire to hear music during surgery. Seventy-five percent of listeners and 86% of nonlisteners said they would also like to hear music after their operation, Ms. Cunningham reported.

Music Program Implemented

Because of the results of this pilot program, a music program was implemented in which a stereo system providing overahead music was installed in the waiting area, and 20 CD players along with a music library of classical and popular recordings were purchased for individual listening before, during, and after surgery. Overall, the cost of the program was about $6,335 to provide music to the presurgical center, OR reception area, operating rooms, and postanesthesia care unit.

After four months, 57 patients were evaluated. Almost 90% of patients reported music to be helpful preoperatively in relieving anxiety, aiding sleep, and passing the time, Ms. Cunningham reported.

She also polled 121 staff (nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists) regarding their opinions. Most were in favor of providing music, though some concerns were raised regarding the use of piped-in music in the postanesthesia care unit.

“This raised a red flag concerning patient safety, when it was pointed out that music overhead might mask such things as patients’ breathing patterns or the sounds of patients coughing,” she said. This was solved by providing patients with personal CD players instead of overhead music. Overhead music is played only in the reception areas.

While the music program was generally well accepted by the staff, it was sometimes inconvenient to administer, she said. The patient brochure publicizes the program and requests that, when possible, patients bring their own CD player and discs.

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