An empirical investigation of the anxiolytic and pain reducing effects of music

Raymond A.R. MacDonald, Laura A. Mitchell, Teresa Dillon, Michael G. Serpell, John B. Davies, Euan A. Ashley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports two empirical experiments investigating the anxiety and pain reducing effects of listening to music via personal stereo following surgical procedures involving general anaesthetic. Both experiments involved participants selecting music of their own choice. In Experiment 1, following minor surgery on the foot, 20 participants in an experimental group listened to music while 20 participants in a control group did not. Results indicate that the music group felt significantly less anxiety than the control group. No differences in pain measurements between the two groups were found. Experiment 2 involved a music listening group of 30 females and a no music control group of 28 females. Both groups underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy. Post-operative measures of pain, anxiety and patient-controlled analgesia were taken. No differences between the groups were obtained on these measurements. The results of both experiments are discussed with reference to subjective responses to musical stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Music
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2003


  • music therapy
  • anxiety
  • music psychology


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