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Does Music Positively Impact Preterm Infant Outcomes?

O'Toole, Alexa BSN, RN; Francis, Kim PhD, RN, PHCNS-BC; Pugsley, Lori BSN, RN, Med, NE-BC

Section Editor(s): Gephart, Sheila

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000394
Evidence-Based Practice Briefs

Background: The hospital environment leaves preterm infants (PTIs) exposed to various stressors that can disrupt their growth and development. Developmental interventions such as music may be an important strategy to mitigate PTI's stress. This brief evaluates current evidence regarding the impact of music therapy on outcomes for PTIs.

Purpose: The question guiding this brief is “Do various types of music therapy positively affect physiologic indicators, feeding behaviors/length of stay (LOS) and pain management outcomes for PTIs?”

Search Strategy: CINAHL/MEDLINE Complete and PubMed databases were searched using keywords preterm infants, premature infants, preterm baby, premature baby, NICU baby, music, and music therapy. The search was limited to 5 years for English studies evaluating the effects of music therapy on physiological indicators, feeding, pain outcomes, and length of stay. The search yielded 12 studies addressing these concerns.

Findings: Music therapy was shown to positively affect physiologic indicators, feeding, length of stay, and pain outcomes for PTIs. In addition, music decreased parental stress.

Implications for Practice: Thoughtful consideration should be given regarding the value of diverse types of music and parental involvement when incorporating music into an individualized plan of care. Furthermore, the development of guidelines with a focus on ambient sound reduction is an important strategy when adding music as an intervention.

Implications for Research: Further research is needed to investigate ambient sound levels in conjunction with musical interventions. In addition, the impact of various types of music, differences in gender, reduction of stress, pain for infants, and parental role in music requires further evaluation.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Obstetrics Service, The Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Correspondence: Alexa O'Toole, BSN, RN, Massachusetts General Hospital Obstetric Service, The Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Blake 13, Boston, MA 02114. (atoole@partners.org).

© 2017 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses