Music Can Calm Anxious Patients

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Value of music therapy in healing

It is not a new thought that music can change our mood. It can relax or energize, but does it heal? The value of arts in healing has been recognized since the days of Hippocrates. A new wave in healthcare is the view of the patient as a whole being, not just a body part or disease. The value of music therapy has played a large role in this new holistic nursing care model. A study published by the University of Kentucky in 2012 focused on the benefits music can play to surgical patients. In this study, patients were less anxious preoperatively and recovered more quickly. They also required less medication throughout the entire perioperative procedure by playing calm gentle music.

Where have the Arts in Healthcare shown promise?

In addition to the surgical setting, playing music has been used to calm anxiety in pediatric units, improve depression in psychiatric wards and cancer units, and help motivate COPD patients in Pulmonary Rehabilitation. As a result of much study, arts in healthcare including music therapy programs, have four benefits: enhance quality of care, improve health outcomes, improve organizational satisfaction and retention among professional caregivers and staff, and enhance the environment of care, deliver health information, and reduce the cost of healthcare. Although these programs are growing, unfortunately even through its positive benefits have been documented, not all healthcare facilities have art programs available to their patients. But the tide is turning; many nursing and medical schools now teach the value of arts, such as music therapy, as part of the formula to heal.

One Program Making it work

MusicInspiresHealth
Photo credit: MusicInspiresHealth.org

A sample of a healthcare arts program that has been successful, University of New Mexico hospital was recently documented on CNN. Their program uses a number of artistic endeavors such as painting and music to help patients in their care. One of the hospital’s professors, Dr. Chris Camarata, discussed the value of this program. “I’ve seen definite symptom improvement, including reductions in pain, nausea and anxiety in people who are exposed to the arts while in the hospital. He also stated that music can calm dying people who are agitated or in delirium and help with obtaining peace and quiet at the end of life.

The value of art programs in healthcare is still evolving but for many healthcare providers, implementing these programs such as the use of music, gives them an additional weapon to help coach and support their patients. It has been proven time and again, if we heal the mind, we help the body. Studies suggest that the just of music therapy, as well as other art related programs, help achieve both.

Michelle Tinkham is a vascular nurse with 15+ years experience. She holds a BS in Nursing, MS in Health Care Administration, and several healthcare related certifications.She has published articles in peer reviewed journals as well as presented at several national organizations.Contact her at [email protected]