Utilizing Music Therapy as an Intervention to Decrease Anxiety in Respiratory Compromised Patients

Monday, 9 November 2015

Jenifer Bantle-Felt, BSN, RN1
Cathy Mielke, MS, CNS, RN, APRN2
Sunnimpha Abcejo, MSN, RN2
(1)Respiratory Care Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA
(2)Department of Nursing, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

Purpose- Many patients in the Respiratory Care Unit (RCU) have suffered respiratory failure and as a result require mechanical ventilation, BiPAP or other oxygen delivery devices. These lifesaving interventions are commonly associated with high levels of anxiety. This anxiety may interfere with ventilator liberation, sleep and participation in therapy. The purpose of this study is to examine the effectiveness of music therapy as an intervention to decrease anxiety in RCU patients.

Background– Because uncontrolled anxiety can have devastating results, healthcare providers depend on the use of sedative medications to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. However, these medications have potential risks and adverse effects that may further complicate and lengthen patients' recovery. In light of the potentially damaging effects of sedative medications, nurses are exploring effective and alternative interventions, such as music to decrease anxiety and promote patient healing.

Methods- A quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design was used in this study involving 29 adult RCU patients selected by convenience sampling. The participants received the music therapy session with preferred music selection via headphones for 30 minutes. State anxiety levels were obtained utilizing a 100mm visual analog scale and physiological indicators of anxiety such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation where measured immediately before and after the music therapy intervention. Patient satisfaction was measured with a yes/no survey regarding enjoyment of the music session. Data was analyzed for statistical significance using a two-tailed paired T-test.

Results- The study found patients (n=29) who listened to a 30 minute music session showed statistically significant decreases in physiological indicators of anxiety such as systolic blood pressure (p= 0.0003), mean blood pressure (p= 0.04), heart rate (p= 0.0006), and respiratory rate (p= .0001). There were no significant differences with diastolic blood pressure (p= 0.17) and oxygen saturation (p= 0.531) when comparing the pre and post-test assessment. The study concluded a mean 27 point reduction of patient state anxiety levels on a 0-100 visual analog scale as well as 96.6% patient satisfaction rate.

Conclusion– The statistically significant values that were measured (systolic and mean blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart rate) after music therapy were indicative of a decrease in the physiological responses to anxiety. As a subjective measurement, a decrease in patient’s perception of anxiety as well as satisfaction with the intervention was evident with music therapy. This study found music therapy to be an effective tool to assist in the reduction of anxiety in patients in the RCU and indicate a benefit of implementing music therapy into the daily patient care plan with continued evaluation.