The Effect of Music on Anxiety in Women Undergoing Cesarean Delivery: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

S. J. Weingarten
A. T. Levy
V. Berghella


OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to evaluate the effect of music on anxiety in patients undergoing cesarean delivery. DATA SOURCES: An electronic search of PubMed, CINAHL,, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials was performed from inception to November 2020. STUDY ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Eligibility criteria included all randomized controlled trials of pregnant women undergoing cesarean delivery who were randomized to either the music intervention or control. Studies needed to measure preoperative, intraoperative, or postoperative anxiety via a visual analog scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, or Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, for inclusion. The primary outcome was intraoperative anxiety during cesarean delivery. Secondary outcomes included preoperative and postoperative anxiety, postoperative pain, postoperative opioid requirements, blood pressure, and heart rate. STUDY APPRAISAL AND SYNTHESIS METHODS: The methodologic quality of the included studies was evaluated using the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. A meta-analysis was performed using the random-effects model of DerSimonian and Laird to produce a summary of treatment effects in terms of mean difference with 95% confidence intervals. A prespecified subgroup analysis of patients undergoing a scheduled or an unscheduled cesarean delivery was carried out for the main outcomes. RESULTS: Of the 1296 studies screened, 15 met the inclusion criteria (n=613 music group vs n=748 controls). Three trials (n=217 music group vs n=215 controls) reported on intraoperative anxiety specifically. Among studies using a visual analog scale for anxiety assessment, women in the intervention group had lower intraoperative anxiety levels than the controls (mean difference, -0.54; 95% confidence interval, -0.87 to -0.20; I(2)=0%; n=2 studies). One trial used the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and 1 trial used the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale for intraoperative anxiety assessment. In both of these studies, music exposure was associated with lower anxiety levels when compared with the controls (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory: mean difference, -2.80; 95% confidence interval, -4.57 to -1.03; Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale: mean difference, -4.80; 95% confidence interval, -7.08 to -2.52). In the subgroup analyses, the same relationship persisted when the cesarean delivery was unscheduled and when the music was selected by the patient or by the study team. The effect of music on preoperative and postoperative anxiety varied depending on which anxiety assessment tool was used. Music was also associated with decreased opioid use (mean difference, -0.87; 95% confidence interval, -1.55 to -0.19; I(2)=0%). CONCLUSION: In patients undergoing a cesarean delivery, music is associated with decreased intraoperative anxiety.