Music and the PACU Environment


Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing




Pain is a common problem in the PACU, resulting in negative respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal, neuroendocrine, and autonomic nervous system consequences for patients. Pain relief contributes to improved patient outcomes and is also an important component of patient satisfaction, particularly in light of today's environment of high competition among hospitals for patients. Music and quiet conversation by staff, contributing to low noise levels in the PACU environment, have the potential to provide pain relief and improve patient satisfaction with the PACU experience. This study investigated the effect of soothing music and lowering noise levels on the pain experience of patients during their PACU stay. A quasiexperimental study was conducted with 2 groups of patients, one who listened to music on a day when staff kept extraneous noise at a minimum in the PACU (the experimental group) and one who experienced the typical PACU day (the control group). The study was conducted at a large Veterans Administration hospital in the Midwest. The sample consisted of 97 individuals undergoing same-day surgery from all surgery services except open heart. Pain was measured by using the 11-point Numerical Rating Scale (NRS). The experimental group experienced a significant reduction in pain from admission to the PACU until discharge. There was no significant decrease for the control group. Approximately 65% of both groups reported no pain on admission to PACU. The percentage of those in the experimental group with no pain increased to 74% at time of discharge. The percentage of those in the control group who reported no pain on discharge had decreased to 58%. A total of 99% of the participants remembered their PACU stay. When asked to remember aspects of comfort during the PACU stay, the experimental group reported (1) significantly less noise caused by staff voices and equipment, (2) greater perception of availability of nurses, and (3) significantly more positive perception of their PACU stay. The study findings support the potential for music played throughout the PACU stay to positively affect the pain experience and improve comfort among patients having surgery.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Discomfort; Hospital Setting; Hospitalized Patients; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Pain; Pain Management and Control; Pain Score or Rating; Patient Satisfaction; Postanesthesia Care Unit (PACU); Postoperative Pain; Postoperative Patients; Recorded Music Listening; Self-Report Measures; Surgery; Surgical Patients

Indexed Terms

Attitude to Health; Health Facility Environment; Hospitals, Veterans; Midwestern United States; Noise; Pain Measurement; Postoperative Pain; Postanesthesia Nursing; Recovery Room; Time Factors

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

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