Music in the ER Cuts Down on Kids' Stress

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Hearing the “Wheels on the Bus” a hundred times a day might cause parents a lot of pain, but when children hear that song (or any other) in the emergency room, it eases theirs. A new study finds that when kids listen to music in the ER it alleviates hurt and distress.

Researchers placed 42 children, ranging in age from 3 to 11, in one of two groups—one that listened to music while receiving an IV, and a set that did not hear tunes. The researchers evaluated how distressed the kids felt before and after the IV and had them rate their pain. The researchers found that children who did not listen to music rated their pain two points higher than those who did. The group listening to music also felt less stressed about the IV than the kids who didn't hear songs.

Music even chills out parents and medical staff. The researchers found that parents whose kids heard music during their IV insertion felt more at ease, though it wasn’t a statistically significant finding. And tunes help medical professionals do their jobs better—76 percent of the medical staff in the music rooms felt it was very easy to insert the IV compared to only 38 percent in the quiet rooms. And 86 percent from the music room felt they did a great job inserting the IV compared to 48 percent from the tuneless rooms.

These findings show that something as simple and non-invasive as music can have a real impact on pain and stress during medical procedures. As the authors write in the paper that appears in July 15 online addition of JAMA Pediatrics, “Music may have a positive impact on pain and distress for children undergoing intravenous placement. Benefits were also observed for the parents and health care providers.”