The effect of music interventions on chronic pain experienced by older adults: A systematic review

Hui-Fen Hsu
Kuei-Min Chen
Frank Belcastro


PURPOSE: To synthesize results from multiple studies to determine the effects of music interventions on chronic pain in older adults. DESIGN: This systematic review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline to identify and select studies. METHODS: Relevant studies were identified from nine electronic databases. The Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) critical appraisal checklists were employed to assess methodological quality. All authors performed screening, data extraction, and synthesis. Inclusion criteria were clinical trials investigating music for chronic pain in older adults aged 65 and older. FINDINGS: Eight studies involving 524 older adults were included, comprising five randomized controlled trials and three quasi-experimental studies. Music interventions consisted of live music, recorded music, and active music, with a variety of music styles and genres. Despite the small and short-term effects, five studies presented significantly positive outcomes for reducing chronic pain and its common comorbidities in older adults following music interventions. Three studies reported decreased trends in pain scores although they did not reach statistical significance. CONCLUSIONS: Music has potential to be an effective adjuvant for managing chronic pain in older adults. CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Nurses can incorporate music into the care of older adults with chronic pain.