Surgeon calls for all patients to be offered music therapy during procedures

Somani BhaskarA leading surgeon has said all patients should be offered the chance to listen to music during their procedures to reduce pain and anxiety.

Bhaskar Somani, a consultant urological surgeon at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said it was a “practical, cheap and harmless” intervention which also increases patients’ satisfaction and willingness to undergo treatment again in the future.

He spoke out following his team’s review of 1,900 patients in 15 international studies who attended urology outpatient appointments for a range of procedures and investigations including biopsies, kidney tube placement and kidney stone removal known as shockwave lithotripsy.

“In the modern era, the volume of urological procedures delivered on an outpatient basis has risen and many of these are carried out under local anaesthesia, such as flexible cystoscopy, prostate biopsy and shockwave lithotripsy,” explained Mr Somani, who is also an associate professor of urology at the University of Southampton. 

“However, from the patient perspective, the experience of undergoing such procedures – not just in urology but across medical and surgical specialties – while awake can cause pain and anxiety.”

The Southampton-led analysis, published in the Journal of Urology, found a reduction in pain and anxiety among patients who listened to music in 90% of the studies, while overall satisfaction was better in 53% and the willingness to repeat the procedure was higher in 40%.

Three studies – 20% – also showed patients who listened to music tolerated higher levels of shockwave power.

“This is the first systematic review evaluating the positive effects of music on urology outpatient procedures,” explained Mr Somani.

“Music seems to decrease anxiety and pain and serve as a useful tool to increase procedural satisfaction and willingness to undergo it again.”

Mr Somani, who is based at Southampton General Hospital, said the proven benefits, low cost and simplicity of music therapy presented a “strong case” for a wider rollout across specialties.

“A clear strength of music is its low cost, non-invasive nature and ease of delivery and a pathway to set up such a service would be relatively straightforward to implement,” he said.

“Furthermore, it could be tailored to a specific procedure being performed and, unlike pharmacological strategies, there are no adverse effects.

“As a result, I think there is a very strong case for all patients to be offered, at the very least, the option of music as an additional therapy when undergoing procedures.”

Posted on Friday 15 December 2017