Researchers had 153 volunteers concentrate on following a melody so they could identify the tones that stood out. During the session small pain shocks were administered through fingertip electrodes. The authors explained that the effects of the music resulted from competition with the participants’ pain pathways.
Interestingly, those who had registered the most anxiety about pain became more absorbed in the task and were more likely to experience reduced perception of pain. The study authors suggested that, “Clinicians should consider patients’ personality characteristics when recommending behavioral interventions like music listening for pain relief.”
Pathways has volunteers that can provide music sessions to our hospice patients as part of our Integrative Therapies program of care for body and soul.
The results were published in the December, 2011 issue of the Journal of Pain.