A survey investigation of the effects of music listening on chronic pain

Laura A. Mitchell, Raymond A.R. MacDonald, Christina Knussen, Michael G. Serpell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Research interest into alternatives to analgesic medication has grown substantially during the past two decades. Moreover, a number of studies have provided empirical evidence that music listening, and in particular listening to our own preferred music, may provide an emotionally engaging distraction capable of reducing both the sensation of pain itself and the accompanying negative affective experience. The current study is a survey of 318 chronic pain sufferers, which aimed to (i) give a detailed description of the music listening behaviour of this group and relate this to experience of pain and quality of life, and (ii) indicate the numbers who consider music listening to be part of their pain management and investigate their perceptions of the benefits. Results indicated distraction and relaxation to be the most frequently perceived benefits of music reported by participants. Both frequent music listening and a perception of music as personally important were further found to relate to higher quality of life. Also, personal importance of music was significantly related to listening to help pain. These findings suggest beneficial effects of music listening to long-term pain.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Music
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • music effects on chronic pain
  • music psychology


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