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 the management of chronic pain (CP), 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 with 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 RCTs 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, anxiety, and related measures. Methods: The study was pre-registered with PROSPERO (CRD42016039837), and the metaanalysis was performed using RevMan 5.3 (The Nordic Cochrane Centre for The Cochrane Collaboration, Copenhagen, Denmark). 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 patients. Results: We found that music reduced self-reported chronic pain and depressive symptoms. We also found that music had a greater effect when the patient chose the music, compared to when the researcher chose it. 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 comorbidities. 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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