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Systematic review
Listening to music may relax mechanically ventilated patients, but there are limitations to the quality of the available evidence
  1. Ulrica Nilsson
  1. Department of Nursing, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Ulrica Nilsson
    Department of Nursing, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden; ulrica.nilsson{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • Music interventions may have a beneficial effect on heart rate, respiratory rate and state anxiety in mechanically ventilated patients.

  • Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) following the CONSORT statement with sufficient sample size and well-established outcome measures are needed in testing music interventions.


The intensive care unit (ICU) environment is a strange place with its noises, equipment, constant activity and bright lights. The demands of critically ill patients in this environment often keep the care providers from recognising the hostility of the environment from the patient's perspective. Patients are often scared, confused and uncomfortable, and the ICU environment does little to provide comfort. Enhancing comfort leads to increased perceptions of well-being and decreased perception of stress.1 The majority of ICU patients are mechanically ventilated. Mechanical ventilation often causes major distress and anxiety in patients, putting them at greater risk for complications. Side effects of analgesia and sedation may lead to the prolongation of mechanical ventilation and, subsequently, to a longer length of hospitalisation …

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  • Competing interests None.