Music-Induced Analgesia in Chronic Pain Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Eduardo A. Garza-Villarreal, Victor Pando, Peter Vuust, Christine Parsons

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Background: Music is increasingly used as an adjuvant for chronic pain management as it is non-invasive, inexpensive, and patients usually report positive experiences with it. However, little is known about its clinical efficacy in chronic pain patients. Objectives: We aimed to determine the effect of music as an adjuvant for chronic pain, as well as to identify characteristics of music interventions associated wit positive clinical outcomes. Study Design: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we investigated randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of adult patients that reported any type of music intervention for chronic pain, chosen by the researcher or patient, lasting for any duration. Searches were performed using PsycINFO, Scopus and PubMed for RTCs published until the end of May 2016. The primary outcome was reduction in self-reported pain using a standardized pain measurement instrument, reported post-intervention. The secondary outcomes were: quality of life measures, depression and anxiety measures and related measures. Methods: The study was pre-registered with PROSPERO (CRD42016039837) and the meta-analysis was done using RevMan. We identified 768 titles and abstracts, and we included 14 RTCs that fulfilled our criteria. The sample size of the studies varied between 25 and 200 participants. Results: We found that music reduced self-reported chronic pain and depressive symptoms. We also found music had a greater effect when the participant chose the music compared to when the researcher chose. Limitations: The sample size of RCTs was small and sometimes with different outcome measures. There was high heterogeneity associated with pooled estimates. Conclusions: Our analysis suggests that music may be beneficial as an adjuvant for chronic pain patients, as it reduces self-reported pain and its common co-morbidities. Importantly, the analgesic effect of music appears higher with self-chosen over researcher-chosen music.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPain Physician
Pages (from-to)597-610
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Chronic Pain
  • Pain
  • analgesia
  • music


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