Music-induced Analgesia in Chronic Pain: Efficacy and Assessment Through a Primary-task Paradigm


Psychology of Music




Research into music-induced analgesia, the ability of music to affect the perception of pain, has under-represented the non-acute, chronic pain population. This longitudinal study aimed to investigate the impact of music listening on chronic pain. In order to extend questionnaire-based approaches of pain assessment, a computerized visual search task was used before and after music listening as an objective measure of pain-related cognitive processing difficulties. Twenty-three participants (chronic pain sufferers or age/gender matched controls) listened to music for 28 days. Questionnaire-based results indicated that music listening consistently reduced pain intensity, unpleasantness and anxiety levels in the short term. However, there were no long-term or cumulative changes in pain relief or anxiety, with participant ratings at baseline comparable to those at 28 days. Visual search task performance demonstrated that chronic pain sufferers showed pain-related cognitive processing inhibitions on the target deviations demanding the greatest processing capacity. This suggests that, though music-induced analgesia was demonstrated through reduced pain ratings, chronic pain continued to interfere with cognitive processing. Durability of music-induced analgesia is therefore likely to be time-limited and hindered by pain-related attentional disruption, reduced engagement and low absorption levels. Explanations of results and suggestions for alternative objective measures of music listening interventions are offered. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

Music and Health Institute Terms

Anxiety; Audio Analgesia; Chronic Pain; Cognitive Abilities; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Pain; Pain Management and Control; Pain Score or Rating; Pain Severity; Questionnaires; Receptive Music Methods; Recorded Music Listening; Self-Report Measures

Indexed Terms

Listening; Cognition; Experiments; Pain Management

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type