The Effect of Music Versus Nonmusic on Behavioral Signs of Distress and Self-report of Pain in Pediatric Injection Patients

L. K. Noguchi


Receiving vaccinations is a part of growing up; however, as necessary as vaccinations are, many children find them to be frightening and painful. Music has been examined as a potential distraction during pediatric medical procedures, but research findings have been mixed, due, in part, to the fact that children were primarily instructed to merely "listen to the music." The present study sought to determine if a focus of attention activity involving music would affect levels of distress and perceptions of pain in pediatric injection patients. Sixty-four 4- to 6(1/2) -year old children receiving routine immunizations were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: musical story, spoken story, or standard care/control. Children in the two treatment conditions listened to a recorded story and pointed at corresponding pictures throughout the injection process. Observational data on distress and pain were collected, in addition to the child's self-rating of pain. Participants in the musical story condition tended to be less distressed and report less pain than participants in the other two conditions, although these differences were not statistically significant. Subsequent analysis indicated that children who received more injections tended to benefit more from the music intervention, in terms of their perceived pain.