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Music Soothes And Eases Pain For Pediatric ER Patients

11:10 EDT 16 Jul 2013 | RedOrbit

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A team of US and Canadian researchers have discovered new evidence suggesting that music can help reduce feelings of pain and distress amongst pediatric ER patients.

As part of the study, which was published in Monday's edition of the journal JAMA Pediatrics, lead investigator Lisa Hartling of the University of Alberta and her colleagues conducted a clinical research trial of 42 children between the ages of three and 11.

All of the children were treated at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, and each of them required IVs, the researchers said. Some of those youngsters listened to music while getting their IVs, while others did not.

Hartling and her colleagues measured each patient's distress levels, perceived pain levels, and heart rates, as well as the satisfaction rates of both their parents and the health-care providers treating the children. The trial was conducted from January 2009 through March 2010.

"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 explained in a statement. "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."

According to the study authors, the children who listened to music reported experiencing significantly less pain, and some of them also experienced less distress. In addition, the parents of those children tended to be more satisfied with the level of care that their sons and daughters received.

More than three-fourths (76 percent) of the health care providers who worked with the music-listening group said that the IVs were very easy to administer, compared to just 38 percent for those working with the other youngsters. The researchers also reported higher levels of distress amongst children who were born prematurely.

Hartling said that she and her colleagues hope to further their work in the area, focusing on whether or not music or other types of distractions can be used to provide relief for pediatric patients undergoing other painful medical procedures. The pain and distress caused by those procedures, the authors said, can have "long-lasting negative effects" on the youngsters who have to undergo them.

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

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