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The astounding effect of
music in healthcare...

The Big 5
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Convincing evidence

Research has shown that patients who listen to music before, during and after their surgery can experience positive effects. The Music as Medicine Foundation that works within the Erasmus MC has conducted research into the effect of music interventions around surgery and other medical settings.


Studies have shown a statistically significant and clinically relevant effect of music on the reduction of postoperative pain, as well as on anxiety, stress and the quality of sleep.

Clear evidence

This provides clear evidence that music can make an important contribution in improving patient well-being.

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Music reduces anxiety, pain and stress

Anxiety and pain around surgery are common. Anxiety before surgery can lead to increased pain after surgery, which may increase the patients need for medication. Often medication for anxiety and pain are then given to the patient to provide comfort. However, anti-anxiety drugs are associated with a negative effect on recovery after surgery.


Less medication

Listening to music has also been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in patients undergoing major surgery, such as open heart surgery. Listening to music around surgery has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety before surgery and pain after surgery. Less sleep medication is required during surgery and less pain medication is required after surgery.


The role of cortisol

The stress hormone cortisol is produced by the body after surgery in response to surgery. This hormone is also produced by the body when someone is anxious. The stress hormone interacts with important functions such as blood pressure and the immune system. As such, cortisol plays an important role in the normal functioning of the brain and body. An excessive and prolonged production of cortisol by the body after surgery can negatively affect the normal processes of the body, such as digestion and the cardiovascular system.

Listening periooperative to music has been proven effective in reducing anxiety and pain.

Music improves sleep

Problems with sleeping are common in hospitalized patients. These sleeping problems appear to be even more severe in patients undergoing surgery. Adequate sleep is important for a good health. It particularly affects the mental and emotional well-being of people.


The importance of sleep

Poor sleep quality could potentially lead to an increase in blood pressure, poorer blood sugar control and a higher immune response in the short term.

Poor sleep can lead to various complaints and negatively affect the recovery after a medical procedure. It is important to improve sleep quality in (surgical) patients.

In the long term, poor sleep quality could potentially lead to a disruption of the immune system and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, patients who sleep poorly after surgery may have a higher risk of developing acute confusion (delirium).

Improve sleep

Multiple studies show that music can improve sleep in surgical patients. In addition to our Music4five system, we can provide an audio sleep mask especially for sleep disruption. For more information click here .

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Music can reduce the risk of delirium

Delirium can sometimes develop after surgery or an infection. Delirium has a significant impact on a patient's well-being with potentially serious long-term effects.

The dangers of delirium

Having delirium increases the risk of medical complications. It can extend the hospital stay. Patients with delirium more often end up in intensive care. The chance that a patient will end up in a nursing home because of delirium is 3x larger than normal. Delirium patients also have a greater risk of death.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that increase the chance of developing delirium. Some of those risk factors include poor sleep, fear of surgery, use of benzodiazepines before, during, and after surgery, and opioid use.

Less chance

Listening to music has been proven to reduce these risk factors. As a result, the chance of getting delirium is also smaller.

But that's not all...

The evidence for a positive effect of music as a medicine on the 'Big Five' has been proven according to several meta-analyses, but there are also clear indications that music has other positive effects.

Fewer post-operative complications

Postoperative complications are dangerous for the patient, lengthen the hospital stay and increase healthcare costs. The risk of postoperative complications can be increased by postoperative pain as well as by the use of medication to manage this pain. The use of music reduces both postoperative pain and the use of pain medication, thereby reducing the risk of postoperative complications.

Shorter hospital stay

Nobody wants a longer hospital stay, but in addition to the fact that it is upsetting for the patient, a longer hospital stay leads to higher healthcare costs and longer waiting times in healthcare. Length of hospitalization is negatively affected by opioid use, postoperative pain, postoperative complications and preoperative anxiety. Music can be used to reduce these risk factors, thus minimizing hospital stay.

Less chronic use of opioids and benzodiazepines

The use of chronic opioids and benzodiazepines is a major problem these days. Serious side effects can occur with long-term use of pain medication. The higher the prescribed dose of medication and the longer the prescribed duration of use, the greater the risk that the prescribed medication will turn into chronic use.

Music reduces anxiety, pain and stress, which can lead to fewer postoperative complications and a shorter hospital stay.
A daily dose of music can reduce the number of chronic medication users.
Music as medicine has no side effects.
Pre-selected music chosen by the patient appears to be most effective.
Reduction of healthcare costs

Healthcare costs can be reduced in many ways. Several of these can be affected by the use of music as a medicine.

One way is to keep the hospital stay as short as possible. Listening to music can indirectly have a positive effect on the length of hospital stay.

Secondly , costs can be influenced by reducing postoperative complications.

Finally, music can help reduce hospital costs is by reducing the amount of opioids, anesthesia, and benzodiazepines prescribed around surgery and procedures.


Patient satisfaction

In general, there is a high patient satisfaction with the use of music during surgery and hospital stay. Patients find the experience of music during and around an operation  pleasant and would like to use music again during the next hospital admission.

No side effects

One of the greatest strengths of music as a medicine is that, unlike traditional drug treatments, no side effects from the use of music have been reported.

The choice of music

Analysis of the importance of music type for the effectiveness of music as a medicine for anxiety, stress and pain has shown that the patients personal choice is important. If the patient has partial control over the choice of music, the effect is greater. The effectiveness of music is greatest when the patient can choose from several pre-compiled lists, even greater than when the patient uses their own music.


There are several scientific publications that report positive effects of music before, during and after surgery iin adult patients. This concerns effects on anxiety, pain, stress and medication use. The Perioperative trajectory guideline has therefore been supplemented with four modules on the application of music in patients undergoing clinical surgery under general and regional anaesthesia. The guideline is particularly intended for surgeons, anaesthesiologists, intensivists and clinical geriatricians.

Read more about the evidence... our infographic and whitepaper
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