The sounds of silence (and jazz) help some after surgery
Listening to Dave Brubeck perform the Hoagy Carmichael classic “Stardust” may not become standard procedure in surgery recovery rooms, but researchers at Penn State Milton S. Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center found that elective hysterectomy patients had significantly lower post-surgery heart rates when they listened to that tune and other jazz numbers.
The same effect was found for patients who were simply exposed to simulated silence through wearing noise-canceling headphones. Those patients also saw an additional benefit, as they experienced less pain.
Subjects who listened to jazz—which included covers and originals from Chris Botti, Brubeck and Diana Krall— had lower heart rates than the silence group after 20 minutes, while patients who got the silent treatment reported less pain after only 10 minutes. Listening to jazz actually led to higherthan-usual pain for some patients.
Dr. Flower Austin, lead author of the study, was an anesthesiology resident at Hershey Medical Center during the experiment and is now enrolled in a pain fellowship at UPMC in Pittsburgh. Austin, who sings and plays the cello, said the use of jazz or silence isn’t meant to be a replacement for pain medication, but rather an additional aspect of multimodal treatment.
Fifty-six patients participated in the study, split randomly into the two sound groups for a 30-minute timeframe. Their heart rate, blood pressure, pain and anxiety levels were evaluated regularly and compared with baseline levels recorded immediately after surgery.
“Georgia on my Mind”and “Stardust” were the two Dave Brubeck piano numbers used in the study.