Pain Management By "Adele"

Music therapy may be of great benefit in the treatment of pain, anxiety and depression

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Most people listen to music for their own pleasure, but many are unaware of how profoundly it affects them. These effects may lead music to become an important psychological treatment.

Pain, anxiety and depression can ruin your day.

Thanks to new data from French researchers, people who suffer from these issues may not have to look further than their radios for a little relief.

"Relax with music to help with pain, anxiety and depression."

Stéphane Guétin, PhD, the director of the Association for Music Therapy Research and Clinical Applications (AMARC) and a researcher at the Centre of Memory Resources and Research Team at the Montpellier University Hospital in Montpellier, France, led the study to examine how music can affect treatment outcomes for patients being treated for pain, anxiety and/or depression.

Nineteen men and 68 women participated in the study at the Regional University Hospital Centre (CHRU) in Montpellier, France. All participants were hospitalized for chronic mechanical, inflammatory, fibromyalgic or neurological pain. Forty-four were put in an intervention group and 43 in a control group.

Pain, anxiety and depression were quantified before the study began using the Visual Analogue pain Scale (VAS) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HAD). Both groups rated their pain, anxiety and depression at roughly the same level before the trials began.

The study lasted was three months, including the first ten days in the hospital. Researchers followed up with the patients twice, at day 60 and day 90.

During the hospitalization period, patients were treated intravenously with pain-relieving, anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication for five days. For the last five days, they were given oral medication as needed.

Thirty-three patients in the intervention group and 30 in the control group also received physical therapy during their hospital stay.

The intervention group received music therapy in addition to medication. Using a program developed by CHRU and a music publication company called Music Care, patients would listen to a standardized 20-minute session of instrumental music from various genres.

The style of music was pre-determined for each patient based on his or her individual taste in music, identified in questionnaires given before the trial.

These sessions occurred twice daily until day 60. While in the hospital, the music sessions were supervised by a nurse, though patients also received training on how to use the equipment. After discharge from the hospital, patients from the intervention group took the music therapy equipment home with them for continued use.

Over the course of the study, patients in the control group saw a 26 percent reduction in pain scale scores, while the intervention group reported 54 percent less. The scores for depression and anxiety were even more striking.

Depression, as measured by the HAD scale, was only 5 percent lower for the control group. The intervention group reported depression HAD scores that were 53 percent lower by comparison.

As far as anxiety goes, control group patients scored 7 percent lower on the HAD scale, while intervention group patients saw a 50 percent reduction.

Additionally, intervention group patients had less need for anti-anxiety medication. The control group patients had a 24 percent higher rate of use for anti-anxiety medication. For pain relief and antidepressant medication, there were not such startling differences between groups, though there was a roughly 10 percent lower use rate.

Based on these results, Guétin and his team concluded that their study confirms the benefit of music therapy for the treatment of pain, anxiety and depression. Because of the inexpensive nature of music treatment, as well as the total lack of side effects, this technique could be applied to many situations with great benefit.

This clinical study was published in the May volume of the Clinical Journal of Pain. CNP Assurances, a major French insurance company, provided the funding for this study. There were no reported conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 18, 2012
Last Updated:
October 25, 2012