May 28—Among intensive care unit (ICU) patients receiving acute ventilatory support for respiratory failure, those allowed to listen to music showed more than a one-third reduction in anxiety and in sedation exposure compared with patients with no headphones or noise-canceling headphones, according to a study in JAMA.

For the study, Ohio State University researchers studied 373 patients on ventilators at 12 ICUs in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. In the intervention group, a music therapist helped 126 patients select their preferred pieces of music, which the patients then could listen to as they wanted. 

By the fifth study day, the intervention group had relative decreases of about 36 percent in anxiety (19-point difference on a 100-point scale), sedation intensity, and sedation frequency (e.g., by day five, patients in the music group received three doses per day of sedative medication versus five doses per day in the usual care [no headphones] group).

Publication Date: Tuesday, May 28, 2013