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Listening to Relaxing Music Improves Physiological Responses in Premature Infants: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Caparros-Gonzalez, Rafael A. MSc, RN; de la Torre-Luque, Alejandro MSc; Diaz-Piedra, Carolina PhD; Vico, Francisco J. PhD; Buela-Casal, Gualberto PhD

Section Editor(s): Dowling, Donna PhD, RN; ; Thibeau, Shelley PhD, RNC-NIC;

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000448
Original Research

Background: Premature infants are exposed to high levels of noise in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Purpose: This study evaluated the effect of a relaxing music therapy intervention composed by artificial intelligence on respiratory rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate.

Methods: A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial was conducted in the NICUs of 2 general public hospitals in Andalusia, Spain. Participants were 17 healthy premature infants, randomly allocated to the intervention group or the control group (silence) at a 1:1 ratio. To be included in the study, the subjects were to be 32 to 36 weeks of gestation at birth (M= 32.33; SD = 1.79) and passed a hearing screening test satisfactorily. The intervention lasted 20 minutes, 3 times a day for 3 consecutive days, while infants were in the incubator. Infants' heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure were assessed before and after each intervention session.

Results: After each session, the respiratory rate decreased in the experimental group (main between-groups effect (F 1,13 = 6.73, P = .022, η2 partial = 0.34). Across the sessions, the heart rate increased in the control group (main between-groups effect, F 1,11 = 5.09, P = .045, η2 partial = 0.32).

Implications for Research: Future studies can use this music intervention to assess its potential effects in premature infants.

Implications for Practice: Nurses can apply the relaxing music intervention presented in this study to ameliorate the impact of the stressful environment on premature infants.

Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.

Mind, Brain, and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC), University of Granada, Granada, Spain (Mr Caparros-Gonzalez, Dr Diaz-Piedra, and Dr Buela-Casal); Faculty of Psychology, University of Balearic Islands, Balearic Islands, Spain (Mr de la Torre-Luque); School of Computer Science, University of Malaga, Malaga, Spain (Dr Vico); and Gynecology and Obstetric Department, Hospital Poniente, El Ejido, Almeria, Spain (Mr Caparros-Gonzalez).

Correspondence: Rafael A. Caparros-Gonzalez, MSc, RN, Mind, Brain, and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC), Campus de Cartuja s/n, 18011, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain (;

Institutions where the work occurred: Hospital Poniente, El Ejido, Almeria, Spain; and Hospital Costa del Sol, Marbella, Malaga, Spain.

This study was funded by a Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation grant (INNPACTO IPT300000-2010-10). R.C.G. is supported by the I+D Project “PSI2015-348 63494-P” of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. A.T.-L. is supported by an FPI grant from the Spanish Ministry and Competitiveness (BES-2013-064257). C.D.-P. is supported by a UGR Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013 University of Granada Research Plan).

None of the authors has biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest.

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© 2018 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses