A randomized controlled trial of music use during epidural catheter placement on laboring parturient anxiety, pain, and satisfaction

Dan M. Drzymalski, Lawrence C. Tsen, Arvind Palanisamy, Jie Zhou, Chuan Chin Huang, Bhavani S. Kodali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although music is frequently used to promote a relaxing environment during labor and delivery, the effect of its use during the placement of neuraxial techniques is unknown. Our study sought to determine the effects of music use on laboring parturients during epidural catheter placement, with the hypothesis that music use would result in lower anxiety, lower pain, and greater patient satisfaction. METHODS: We conducted a prospective, randomized, controlled trial of laboring parturients undergoing epidural catheter placement with or without music. The music group listened to the patient's preferred music on a Pandora® station broadcast through an external amplified speaker; the control group listened to no music. All women received a standardized epidural technique and local anesthetic dose. The primary outcomes were 3 measures of anxiety. Secondary outcomes included pain, patient satisfaction, hemodynamic parameters, obstetric parameters, neonatal outcomes, and anesthesia provider anxiety. Intention-to-treat analysis with Bonferroni correction was used for the primary outcomes. For secondary outcomes, a P value of <.001 was considered statistically significant. RESULTS: A total of 100 parturients were randomly assigned, with 99 included in the intention-to-treat analysis. Patient characteristics were similar in both groups; in the music group, the duration of music use was 31.1 ± 7.7 minutes (mean ± SD). The music group experienced higher anxiety as measured by Numeric Rating Scale scores immediately after epidural catheter placement (2.9 ± 3.3 vs 1.4 ± 1.7, mean difference 1.5 [95% confidence interval {CI} 0.2-2.7], P =.02), and as measured by fewer parturients being "very much relaxed" 1 hour after epidural catheter placement (51% vs 78%, odds ratio {OR} 0.3 [95% CI 0.1-0.9], P =.02). No differences in mean pain scores immediately after placement or patient satisfaction with the overall epidural placement experience were observed; however, the desire for music use with future epidural catheter placements was higher in the music group (84% vs 45%, OR 6.4 [95% CI 2.5-16.5], P <.0001). No differences in the difficulty with the epidural catheter placement or in the rate of cesarean delivery were observed. CONCLUSIONS: Music use during epidural catheter placement in laboring parturients is associated with higher postprocedure anxiety and no improvement in pain or satisfaction; however, a stronger desire for music with future epidural catheter placements was observed. Further investigation is needed to determine the effect of music use in parturients requesting and using epidural labor analgesia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-547
Number of pages6
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


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