Effects of Music on Physiological and Behavioral Indices of Acute Pain and Stress in Premature Infants: Clinical Trial and Literature Review


Music and Medicine




Infants in intensive care units often undergo medically necessary heel-stick procedures. Because the risks of administering analgesics and anesthetics are often thought to outweigh the benefits, there remain no proven means of ameliorating the pain and stress these infants suffer, particularly during procedures. This study examined the controlled use of recorded vocal music to attenuate physiological and behavioral responses to heel stick in 13 premature infants via an experimental design. In both instances, infants exposed to music and infants in the control group, heart rate, and respiration rate increased during the heel-stick procedure (P’s = .02) and nearly all infants cried. During a 10-minute recovery following the heel stick, heart rate, and crying significantly decreased in infants exposed to music (P = .02) but not in unexposed infants. Controlled music stimulation appears to be a safe and effective way to ameliorate pain and stress in premature infants following heel sticks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Heart Rate; Hospital Setting; Infants; Mental Health; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Neonatal Procedures; Newborn Infants; Pain; Pain Management and Control; Premature Infants; Procedural Pain; Recorded Music Listening; Respiratory Rate; Stress; Suffering; Vital signs

Indexed Terms

acute pain; stress; premature infants; clinical trials; heel-stick procedure; Pain; Physiology

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type