Thesis: Music and Mind

Pages: 5 (1562 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper

Music and Mind

Music Research and Response

It can be safely stated that the range of musical styles, formats, beats and tempos is wider than the circumference of the whole world -- maybe even of the universe -- and that is what makes listening so interesting and in many cases pleasing. To go a step further, this paper delves into and reviews recent studies and experiments with music that open the door to the enhancement and fascination of the researcher. To wit, this paper will report on an empirical research project that looks into how music helps reduce pain and helps the patient return to normal sleep patterns following intestinal (INT) surgery.

Experiments in Music and Behavior

Most music is "foot-tapping" music, and most music has a "pulse, something you can tap your foot to…" according to author Daniel J. Levitin. The sounds produced in Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze," in the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women," and AC/DC's "Back in Black" are all prime examples of songs that are "rhythmically driven" and provide a "great groove" (Levitin 165-166). Levitin's book, This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, enthusiastically peers into the nuts and bolts of "groove" by examining Rick James' "Super Freak," Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" -- among other up-tempo tunes.

But not everyone in the world needs music for its "groove." Some need music to heal following surgery. Indeed, an article in the journal Research in Nursing & Health reports on an empirical study during which "three non-pharmacological nursing interventions" -- including chosen music, relaxation, and the combination of both -- were tested to see what pain relief they could offer for patients recovering from intestinal (INT) surgery (Good, et al. 2005).

Good, Marion, Anderson, Gene Cranston, Ahn, Sukhee, Cong, Xiaomei, and Stanton-

Hicks. "Relaxation and Music Reduce Pain Following Intestinal Surgery."

Research In Nursing & Health 28, no. 3 (June, 2005) 240-251.

The hypothesis of the article is that following serious surgery (in this case, intestinal surgery) instead of the usual heavy doses of medications, patients were given relief from some of the pain through the use of mellow music. Moreover, analgesics are of course necessary for pain relief following surgery, but whenever healthcare professionals can limit the doses of analgesic interventions they seek to do that.

The method that was used in this research: a total of 167 patients were "randomly assigned" to one of three intervention groups (Good 240). One group was given relaxation techniques, a second group received a mellow musical treatment, and the third group was given a combination of music and relaxation techniques. A fourth group, the "control group," received the usual pain medication but did not participate in music or relaxation.

The reason for this experiment is that doctors and nurses were seeking relief for patients who had just gone through INT surgery, which the article reports produces more postoperative pain than surgeries involving GYN procedures. Incidentally, the authors report that there have been experiments in which music was used as an intervention with patients recovering from GYN, cardiac and abdominal surgeries; but the researchers note that no previous investigations have looked into postoperative musical interventions following INT surgery.

Who were the patients? The patients ranged in age from 20 to 70 and 95% were Caucasian; 60% were female; 63% were married; 52% were Protestant; 58% were from households that earn $3,000 or less per month; 62% had completed "some college"; and 81% did not drink alcohol regularly. The average time spent in surgery for these 167 patients was 3 hours, 40 minutes. Most of the incisions (87%) were "vertical" and most incisions (67%) "spanned both the lower and upper abdomen" (Good 242-243).

The patients in the "relaxation" group were taught prior to surgery to "let the lower jaw drop slightly" and keep the tongue quiet "and resting in the bottom of the mouth" (Good 243). Also, they were shown how to "let the lips get soft" and to "breathe slowly with a three-rhythm pattern of inhale, exhale, and rest" (Good 243). "Do not even think words," this group was told. The music group was given five types of "soothing music" to choose from. In the group that combined music and relaxation techniques 27% chose classical orchestral music; 26% chose piano; 20% chose slow jazz; 12% picked "synthesizer" and 11% chose harp music (Good 243).

After surgery the patients who chose music and the combination music and relaxation were given lightweight foam earphones and a small tape recorder. The 1-minute relaxation instructions were repeated at 1-minute intervals between musical interludes. The music only tape played "continuously" and a fourth group, the "control group," just received pain medication and nothing else.

The postoperative measurements were done via the "VAS sensation of pain scale" and the "BAS distress of pain scale" (Good 243). Three phases of testing were conducted (5 minutes prep period in bed; an "ambulation period" -- getting out of bed, walking a bit and returning to bed -- and a 10-minute recovery period in bed) and the results -- including fresh interviews the day following surgery -- showed that 96% of the patients found the interventions "helpful for pain" and 64% said pain was "reduced…a moderate amount or a lot." Sixty-two percent the interventions "increased their feeling of being in control of pain" (Good 247). The combination group and those in the other two intervention groups reported about the same amount of reduced pain (Good 247).

Some 47% reported reduced "stress," 7% reported reduced sensation and 38% reported reductions in both sensation and distress (Good 247). How did the participants actually use the music in this experiment? Twenty-seven percent said they used the music to relax; 21% used the music to "distract themselves from the pain"; and 52% reported they used the music for both purposes. "Nearly all the music and combination groups (96%) liked their chosen music a moderate amount to a lot" and 71% said the music was like a "sedative" (Good 247). Interestingly about half of those in the combination and the music groups were performers (either past or present) and 94% said they would recommend this technique to others who are anticipating surgery (Good 247).

The author's conclusions: after initial testing and continued testing on day 1 and day 2 following surgeries, the interventions "provided many patients with clinically significant relief" (Good 248). For the "control group" (that did not participate with music, relaxation or the combination) "greater sensation and/or distress were significantly and moderately related to slower recovery" following the surgeries. The reduction in pain experienced by the groups receiving music, relaxation and the combination did not result in "improved recovery rates" (Good 247).

Critiquing the study, it is clear that the relaxation techniques, the music and a combination of both "were effective in reducing postoperative sensation and distress of pain" (Good 249). This experiment is valuable for several reasons; one, music can play an important role in individuals who wish to reduce stress (a common example is for those who are fearful of dental visits, who are given headphones and their choice of music to listen to as a distraction from the dental procedures) during medical examinations; two, this particular research project helps publicize the need for healthcare professionals to find alternatives to heavy drugs that are most commonly used following surgery. Using music in this way is a holistic approach as opposed to using chemicals that eventually wear off, requiring the patient to inject more and more to attain the same level of pain-free experiences.

The two aspects this deserve particular praise: one, on page 249 the authors suggest that in future studies researchers should try "longer listening times" during the first two days following surgeries (which may improve sleep times, pain and psychological "measures");… [END OF PREVIEW]

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