Music is powerful. The fact that music has healing properties and can change moods is not a new fact. Historically, even for thousands of years, music has been found to reduce negative emotions such as fear, anger, and worry, as well as have healing power. Unfortunately, even though there is evidence that music has healing effects, general hospitals do not often use music to help their patients. However, research into music’s beneficial effects is continually growing, and more evidence is being collected. For example, an American study looking at the effects of music on anxiety in heart attack (medically known as myocardial infarction) patients found that music does have a relaxing effect on these patients. [https://journals.lww.com/ccnq/citation/1990/09000/effects_of_relaxing_music_on_state_anxiety_in.9.aspx]
The reason for why this study was conducted is that there is an increasing demand for caregiving creativity, especially to address patients with anxiety. Thus, using music as the creative component, this study aimed to investigate its beneficial effects on patients with anxiety.
Anxiety is a term you may have seen before. The study states that anxiety occurs when a person has feelings of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry, and develops as a response to stress. Stress forms as a result of when a person recognizes a situation, whether it is from their external (i.e. physical) or internal (i.e. psychological) environment, as a danger. This means that when someone believes that a situation is threatening to them, their stress levels increase, leading to their anxiety levels increasing as well.
The researchers specifically looked into heart attack patients because they have been found to experience anxiety when they are hospitalized. Visiting regulations, interrupted sleep, and noises that occur in a hospital unit, all of which are a part of being hospitalized, are some of the factors that may lead to anxiety. The patients’ minds perceive these occurrences in the hospital environment as a threat, leading to the increased stress and anxiety levels as mentioned before. As for the results of the study, it was found that when the anxiety levels of the heart attack patients before and after the study were compared, the researchers found that soft, repetitive music seemed to reduce anxiety. Interestingly, patients that participated in the study reported that they felt a sense of relaxation due to the music, and that they felt less tense. Furthermore, it was determined that when compared to the group that did not listen to music, the anxiety levels of the group that did listen to music were significantly lower.
In conclusion, from the findings of this study, it is suggested that the caregivers in these situations (i.e. the nurses) should integrate the controlled use of music in their caregiving to reduce anxiety levels of such patients. This would create a more patient-centred approach to caregiving, as the music’s controlled use can be individualized by the nurses to their patients. It has been proven time after time that music does, in fact, have healing properties, and should be used in care settings to help patients with their stress and anxiety levels. The study concludes by stating that more research should be done to look at the beneficial effects of music on heart attack patients. For example, improving the study by giving patients a choice of music.
Rachel Lee is a third year Bachelor of Health Sciences student at McMaster University. She wrote this blog while completing the HTH SCI 3H03 at the Room 217 Foundation.