Music Decreases Childrens’ Perception of Pain – New Study 2013

July 15, 2013

A recently released study by medical researchers at the University of Alberta show increasing evidence that music decreases children’s perceived sense of pain.


Positive psychology of music

Music helps kids relax during medical procedures

The Alberta team ran a clinical research trial of 42 children between ages of 3 and 11 who visited the pediatric ER department at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and needed IVs. Some children listened to music while having the IV administered, while other kids did not. Children’s distress, perceived pain levels and heart rates, as well as satisfaction levels of parents, and satisfaction levels of health-care providers who administered the IVs were all measured.

“We did find a difference in the children’s reported pain — the children in the music group had less pain immediately after the procedure,” says lead researcher Lisa Hartling. “The finding is clinically important and it’s a simple intervention that can make a big difference. Playing music for kids during painful medical procedures would be an inexpensive and easy-to-use intervention in clinical settings.”

The study demonstrated that children who listened to pleasant music perceived significantly less pain, some showed significantly less physical distress, and the children’s parents reported higher satisfaction with care.

In the music listening group, 76 per cent of health-care providers said the IVs were very easy to administer — a markedly higher number than the non-music group where only 38 per cent of health-care providers said the procedure was very easy. Researchers also noticed that the children who had been born premature experienced more distress overall.

Hartling and her team hope to continue their research in this area, to see if music or other distractions can make a big difference for kids undergoing other painful medical procedures. The pain and distress from medical procedures can have “long-lasting negative effects” for children, note the researchers.

Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry researcher Lisa Hartling led the research team that involved her colleagues from the Department of Pediatrics, as well as fellow researchers from the University of Manitoba and the United States. Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Pediatrics today.