Can music ease pain perception in kids?

Alternative medicine is increasingly accepted as part of palliative care and research indicates music can ease pain and stress in patients.

Distraction is a proven pain reliever and new findings suggest that turning on the music could help ease pain in kids.

Researchers in Edmonton discovered new evidence that music can help reduce perceived sense of pain and distress among pediatric ER patients.

Lead author of the study, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry researcher Lisa Hartling from the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta stated, “We did find a difference in the children’s reported pain – the children in the music group had less pain immediately after the procedure.

“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.”

Study details
In order to evaluated the potential benefits of music for diverting response to pain stimuli the researchers conducted a clinical trial between January 2009 and March 2010.

It involved 42 children between the ages of three and 11 who were undergoing medical intervention at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and required intravenous lines (IV’s). Some of the study subjects listened to music while getting their IVs, while others did not.

As a part of the study, the investigators measured the children’s distress, perceived pain levels and heart rates, satisfaction levels of parents as well as the satisfaction levels of health-care providers who administered the IVs.

Outcome of the study
It was observed that kids who underwent musical therapy reported significantly less pain. Some of them also exhibited less distress and their parents reportedly were more satisfied with care.

The study found that 76 percent of healthcare providers in the music listening group said that IVs were very easy to administer as opposed 38 percent in the non-music group.

Given the promise shown by the clinical trial, the researchers hope to substantiate the findings in kids undergoing other painful procedures.

Hartling stated, “There is growing scientific evidence showing that the brain responds to different types of music in very specific ways. So additional research into how and why music may be a better distraction from pain could help advance this field.”

Their findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Pediatrics.