A new study explores the use of music-listening to relieve acute pain, finding that people who were given the impression that they had control over the music they heard experienced more pain than those who did not. experienced relief from those who were not given such control. Dr. Claire Howlin from Queen Mary University of London, UK, and colleagues from University College Dublin, Ireland, presented these findings in an open-access journal. one more On 3 August 2022.
Listening to music can be used for pain relief, especially for chronic pain, that is, pain lasting more than 12 weeks. However, the mechanisms underlying these benefits are unclear, particularly for acute pain, that is, pain lasting less than 12 weeks. Basic musical features, such as tempo or energy, seem less important for pain relief; Instead, feeling able to make decisions about music may be key to pain relief. However, previous work has largely focused on findings from laboratory-based samples that do not detect real-world, pre-existing acute pain.
To improve understanding, Howlin and his colleagues asked 286 adults experiencing acute pain in the real world to rate their pain before and after listening to a music track. The track was specially made in two different versions of varying complexity. Participants were randomly assigned to listen to either a low- or high-complexity version, and some were randomly selected to give the impression that they had some control over the musical qualities of the track, although they did not play their part. Listened to the same track regardless of choice.
The researchers found that participants who felt they had control over the music experienced greater relief in the intensity of their pain than participants who were not given such an effect. In the questionnaire, participants reported enjoying both versions of the track, but no association was found between the complexity of the music and the amount of pain relief. Additionally, participants who engage more actively with music in their daily lives experienced even greater pain-relieving benefits from having a sense of control over the tracks used in this study.
These findings suggest that liking and association with music is important for optimizing its pain-relieving potential. Future research may explore the relationship between music choice and subsequent engagement, as well as strategies to increase engagement to improve pain relief.
The authors continue: “We now know that the act of choosing music is an important part of the health benefits of listening to music. It is likely that people listen more closely or more carefully when they choose music themselves. “
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