The Effect of Music on Postoperative Pain and Anxiety

K. D. Allred
J. F. Byers
M. L. Sole


The purpose of this study was to determine if listening to music or having a quiet rest period just before and just after the first ambulation on postoperative day 1 can reduce pain and/or anxiety or affect mean arterial pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and/or oxygen saturation in patients who underwent a total knee arthroplasty. Fifty-six patients having a total knee arthroplasty were randomly assigned to either a music intervention group or a quiet rest group. A visual analog scale was used to measure pain and anxiety. Physiologic measures, including blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate, were also obtained. Statistical findings between groups indicated that the music group's decrease in pain and anxiety was not significantly different from the comparison rest group's decrease in pain (F = 1.120; p = .337) or anxiety (F = 1.566; p = .206) at any measurement point. However, statistical findings within groups indicated that the sample had a statistically significant decrease in pain (F = 6.699; p = .001) and anxiety (F = 4.08; p = .013) over time. Results of this research provide evidence to support the use of music and/or a quiet rest period to decrease pain and anxiety. The interventions pose no risks and have the benefits of improved pain reports and decreased anxiety. It potentially could be opioid sparing in some individuals, limiting the negative effects from opioids. Nurses can offer music as an intervention to decrease pain and anxiety in this patient population with confidence, knowing there is evidence to support its efficacy.