FAST FACTS: Non-Drug Treatment: Music


Music therapy: Listening to (or playing) music as a form of enjoyable distraction.

Your Loved One May Enjoy:

  • Listening to their favorite type of music
  • Singing hymns or other favorite songs
  • Listening to instrumental or harp music
  • Playing piano, guitar, or other instruments
  • Dancing
  • Watching children playing instruments or singing

How Does it Work?

Research indicates that listening to your preferred style of music can:

  1. Reduce pain
  2. Lower blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate


Assisting with Music Therapy

  • Discuss with your loved one their music preferences and experiences with music
  • Provide your loved one with a device to listen to music and headphones (if comfortable to use); provide a variety of music options they enjoy
  • Set up the equipment as needed for your loved one prior to the session 
  • At the beginning of each session, ask your loved one what their pain level is on a 0-10 pain scale; do this again at the end of the music session. 
  • Document pain ratings so you can share with your loved one’s healthcare team.

What Else You Should Do

  • Write down and share information about your loved one’s pain with their healthcare provider
  • Use a Pain Diary to note important information useful to the healthcare provider
  • Encourage your loved one to try a non-drug treatment and document the impact on pain


Adapted from: 1. Fouladbakhsh, J.M., et al., Nondrug therapies for pain management among rural older adults. Pain Manag Nurs, 2011. 12(2): p. 70-81. 2. The Nursing Home Pain Management Algorithm Clinical Trial, R01 NR009100,  7/1/05 – 4/30/10; Mary Ersek (PI) Used with permission of Mary Ersek and HPNA (2009). 

1.Lunde, Sigrid Juhl*; Vuust, Peter; Garza-Villarreal, Eduardo A.; Vase, Lene., May 2019; Music-induced analgesia: how does music relieve pain?, PAIN, Volume 160, Issue 5, p 989-993. 

Revised January 2022

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