A systematic review of music-based interventions for procedural support

Olivia S.wedberg Yinger, Lori F. Gooding

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Individuals undergoing medical procedures frequently experience pain and anxiety. Music-based interventions have the potential to help alleviate these symptoms.

OBJECTIVE: This review investigated the effects of music-based interventions (music therapy and music medicine) on pain and anxiety in children and adults undergoing medical procedures.

METHODS: This systematic review examined randomized controlled trial music intervention studies to manage patient-reported pain and/or anxiety during medical procedures. All studies were published in English and peer-reviewed journals. Quality and risk of bias were assessed using criteria from the Checklist to Evaluate a Report of a Nonpharmacological Trial (CLEAR-NPT).

RESULTS: Fifty studies met inclusion criteria, the majority of which (84%) had a high risk of bias. It was not possible to perform a meta-analysis because studies varied greatly in terms of medical procedure and intervention type. Results varied across studies, with approximately half (48%) indicating less anxiety for music intervention participants; fewer studies (36%) reported less pain for music intervention participants.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to clearly define and differentiate between music therapy and music medicine interventions in procedural support research. Further research is necessary to determine which patients would benefit most from music interventions during medical procedures, and which interventions are most beneficial. To improve research quality and reduce risk of bias, when designing studies investigators need to carefully consider factors related to design, including randomization, treatment allocation concealment, blinding outcome assessors, and intention-to-treat analysis. In addition, more detailed intervention reporting is needed when publishing results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-77
Number of pages77
JournalJournal of Music Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© the American Music Therapy Association 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


  • anxiety
  • medical procedure
  • music medicine
  • music therapy
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Music


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