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Effects of Music Therapy on Physiological and Psychological Outcomes for Patients Undergoing Cardiac Surgery

Sendelbach, Sue E. PhD, RN; Halm, Margo A. PhD, RN, CCRN, APRN-BC, FAHA; Doran, Karen A. MSN, RN, CCNS; Miller, Elaine Hogan PhD, RN; Gaillard, Philippe PhD(C), MS

The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing: May-June 2006 - Volume 21 - Issue 3 - p 194-200

Background: Cardiac surgery is a common interventional procedure for ischemic and valvular heart disease. Cardiac surgery is accompanied by postoperative pain and anxiety. The use of music therapy has been shown to reduce pain, anxiety, and physiological parameters in patients having surgical procedures.

Objectives: To compare the effects of music therapy versus a quiet, uninterrupted rest period on pain intensity, anxiety, physiological parameters, and opioid consumption after cardiac surgery.

Subjects and methods: An experimental design was used. A total sample of 86 patients (69.8% males) were randomized to 1 of 2 groups; 50 patients received 20 minutes of music (intervention), whereas 36 patients had 20 minutes of rest in bed (control). Anxiety, pain, physiologic parameters, and opioid consumption were measured before and after the 20-minute period.

Results: A significant reduction in anxiety (P ≤ .001) and pain (P = .009) was demonstrated in the group that received music compared with the control group, but no difference was observed in systolic blood pressure (P = .17), diastolic blood pressure (P = .11), or heart rate (P = .76). There was no reduction in opioid usage in the 2 groups.

Conclusions: Patients recovering from cardiac surgery may benefit from music therapy.

Sue E. Sendelbach, PhD, RN Clinical Nurse Researcher, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, Minn.

Margo A. Halm, PhD, RN, CCRN, APRN-BC, FAHA Director of Nursing Research & Quality, Clinical Nurse Specialist, United s Hospital, Saint Paul, Minn.

Karen A. Doran, MSN, RN, CCNS Cardiovascular CNS, Mercy & Unity Hospitals, Minneapolis, Minn.

Elaine Hogan Miller, PhD, RN Trial Leader, Medtronic, Minneapolis, Minn. Philippe Gaillard, PhD(C), MS Statistician, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, Minn.

Funding for this study was provided by the Allina Foundation Nursing Research Trust Fund.

This fund is dedicated to nursing research and education within the Allina Health System.

Corresponding author Sue E. Sendelbach, PhD, RN, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, 800 East 28th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55407-3799 (e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.