Hospital patients on ventilators can breathe more easily if music is played to them, and the technique could even be more effective than drugs at calming patients on forced ventilation, according to a study.
Researchers at the Cochrane Library said they conducted tests on around 200 people in intensive care and showed that the music helped get rid of anxiety, as well as helping to slow the rate of breathing.
The study could not determine whether the type of music played made any difference; the researchers used easy listening and classical music in the study.
Certain genres of music may be more effective for particular patients. Since music can evoke intensive emotions, selecting the wrong type may agitate the patient and cause them more stress.
Lead researcher Joke Bradt of Drexel University in Philadelphia, US, said: “We recommend that medical personnel providing music to patients consult with a music therapist to understand what type of music may be best for a particular patient.”
In one of the trials a trained music therapist played live music with a tempo synchronised to the patient’s breathing, although pre-recorded music also worked.