Can jazz ease post-surgery stress?

Can jazz ease post-surgery stress?


norman lebrecht

October 19, 2014

They give you plenty of meds to numb the pain during and after an operation Some of the meds have unfortunate side-effects.

Try listening to music instead, is the advice from the Anesthesiology 2014 conference in New Orleans.

Dr. Flower Austin, D.O., anesthesiology resident at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, reported on a study of 56 patients undergoing elective hysterectomies. Half chose to listen to jazz after the operation, the other half to wear noise cancellation headphones.

Heart rate, blood pressure, pain and anxiety levels were surveyed over half an hour. Both groups’ heart rates dropped significantly. The jazz lovers’ heart rate was lower after 20 minutes than the noise cancellers.

Why didn’t they try Classic FM?

patient headphones

Talk to your doctor.


  • M Foster says:

    Interesting. I listened to a lot of music after my major abdominal surgery, but I was still grateful for high doses of dilaudid over several days.

    Noise cancellation is very useful, especially in a busy surgical ward.

  • Chris Walsh says:

    It rather depends what kind of jazz you listen to. I can’t imagine that listening to Cecil Taylor or Derek Bailey will ease your pain that much (and I’d like to point out that I actually like listening to both Cecil Taylor and Derek Bailey, but they wouldn’t be my choice as post-operative listening).

  • Micaela says:

    This is true. Also going into surgery it works – keeps you calm. But it’s not just jazz.I used
    recorded ocean sounds, relaxing sounds from nature. They let me keep my earphones in right until they put me under. It helps keeps you calm for surgery, helps the healing afterwards.

    I think it’s important to understand that different sounds are unique & helpful to each patient. Some might enjoy jazz, others Mozart, but I like generic nature sounds.

    It was kind of a shock for one surgery to be listening to my calming sounds before going in, and be lucid enough as they wheeled me into operate to realize that the dr. had heavy metal rock n roll playing over the loudspeakers in the operating room. When I asked him later about this he said it helps him stay alert and focused. So to each his own . . .

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    I listened to Bach after surgery 10 years ago. One nurse even noted my listening to music in the chart! For me, Bach worked magic.