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26 July 2013

Music eases kids' pain during medical procedures

Music decreases children's pain when they're undergoing an uncomfortable medical procedure, according to a new study.

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Music decreases children's pain when they're undergoing an uncomfortable medical procedure, according to a small new study.

The study included 42 children, aged 3 to 11, who were treated at a pediatric emergency department and required an intravenous (IV) needle insertion. Some of the children listened to music while getting an IV.

Children who listened to music reported much less pain and some showed lower levels of distress than those who didn't listen to music. In addition, the parents of children who listened to music were more satisfied with their youngster's care.

"We did find a difference in the children's reported pain – the children in the music group had less pain immediately after the procedure," study leader Lisa Hartling, of the faculty of medicine and dentistry at the University of Alberta, said in a university news release.

"The finding is clinically important and it's a simple intervention that can make a big difference. Playing music to kids during painful medical procedures would be an inexpensive and easy-to-use intervention in clinical settings," she added.

Statistics 

Among health care providers, 76% of those who dealt with children who listened to music said the IVs were very easy to administer, compared with 38% of those who gave IVs to children who didn't listen to music, the investigators found.

The study, published July 15 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, also found that children who had been born prematurely experienced more distress overall.

Hartling and her colleagues hope to investigate if music or other distractions can reduce pain and distress for children undergoing other painful medical procedures.

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

More information

The Nemours Foundation explains how parents can prepare their children for visits to the doctor.

 
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