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Music Can Help Ease Pain In Children

Update Date: Jul 15, 2013 04:55 PM EDT

Turning on the music could help ease pain in children, according to new research.

Researcher in the latest study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found more evidence that music decreases children's perceived sense of pain.

The latest study lead by Lisa Hartling from the University of Alberta involved 42 children between the ages of three and 11 who went to the pediatric emergency department at the Stollery Children's Hospital and needed IVs.

Some of the children listened to music while getting an IV, while other did not. Hartling and her team measured the children's distress, perceived pain levels and heart rates, as well as satisfaction levels of parents and satisfaction levels of health-care providers who administered the IVs.

"We did find a difference in the children's reported pain - the children in the music group had less pain immediately after the procedure," Hartling said in a news release. "The finding is clinically important and it's a simple intervention that can make a big difference. Playing music for kids during painful medical procedures would be an inexpensive and easy-to-use intervention in clinical settings."

The study revealed that children who listened to music reported significantly less pain.  Some of these children also demonstrated less distress and children's parents were more satisfied with care.

The study found that 76 percent of healthcare providers in the music listening group said that IVs were very easy to administer compared to only 38 percent of healthcare providers in the non-music group. 

Researchers said the next step is to see if music or other distractions can make a big difference for children undergoing other painful medical procedures. These studies are important because the pain and distress from medical procedures can have "long-lasting negative effects" for children, according to researchers.

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

Previous studies also found that the mood of the music, whether it has lyrics and if it is familiar to the listener also impacts pain perception. 

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