It is a well-known fact that music in an operating room is a popular accompaniment for surgeons performing surgery. Research has now shown that listening to music before, during and after can help reduce pain or patients.
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London said the patients who had listened to music had been less anxious after their surgery and had needed less pain relief.
Writing in the Lancet, they said music had been effective even while patients had been under general anaesthetic.
The Department of Health said doctors should consider the findings.
The scientists want hospitals to suggest in NHS information leaflets that patients bring music devices and playlists into hospital with them.
Hazim Sadideen, a plastic surgeon from University Hospitals Birmingham who has also researched the role of music, said the study was comprehensive.
He added: “Undertaking both minor and major surgery can induce stress.
“Music can be used as an additional modality or adjunct to improve the patient journey, of course it is important to ensure the patient and theatre team would like music to be played.”
The researchers are following up this work with a study at the Royal London Hospital in the autumn.
However, a different research group filmed 20 operations at two UK hospitals to observe.
When music was played, operating staff often had to repeat themselves to be heard – when requesting a surgical instrument, for example.
The Royal College of Surgeons says there is no evidence of a widespread problem in NHS hospitals.
For the study, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, the investigators placed multiple cameras at strategic points around the operating room to observe the verbal and non-verbal communications between staff.
The 35 hours of footage showed it was usually the senior doctors in the team who made the decision about the background music, rather than the nurses.
Music was played in 16 of the 20 observed operations.
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