Music,Anxiety,Emergency department,Randomized controlled trial," /> Music,Anxiety,Emergency department,Randomized controlled trial,"/> Using music to reduce anxiety among older adults in the emergency department: A randomized pilot study
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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2017, Vol. 15 ›› Issue (6): 450-455.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(17)60341-8

• Research Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Using music to reduce anxiety among older adults in the emergency department: A randomized pilot study

Laura Bellanda, Laura Rivera-Reyesb, Ula Hwangb,c   

  1. a Center for Family Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA;
    b Department of Emergency Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA;
    c Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, James J. Peters VAMC, New York, NY 10029, USA
  • Received:2017-02-13 Accepted:2017-03-23 Online:2017-11-15 Published:2018-12-19
  • Contact: Laura Belland; E-mail:


An emergency department (ED) visit may be distressing and anxiety-provoking for older adults (age > 65 years). No studies have specifically evaluated the effect of music listening on anxiety in older adults in the ED.

Objective: The objective of this pilot study was to evaluate the effect of music listening on anxiety levels in older ED patients.

Design, Setting, Participants and Interventions

This was a randomized pilot study in the geriatric ED of an urban academic tertiary medical center. This was a sample of English-speaking adults (age > 65 years) who were not deaf (n = 35). Subjects consented to participate and were randomized to receive up to 60 min of music listening with routine care, while the control group received routine care with no music. Subjects in the music treatment group received headphones and an electronic tablet with pre-downloaded music, and were allowed to choose from 5 selections.

Main Outcome Measures

The primary outcome was change in anxiety levels, measured by the state-trait anxiety inventory (STAI), at enrollment and 1 h later.


A total of 35 participants were enrolled: 74% were female, 40% were white, and 40% were black; of these, 32 subjects completed the study protocol. When comparing control (n = 18) against intervention subjects (n = 17), there were no significant differences in enrollment STAI scores (43.00 ± 15.00 vs. 40.30 ± 12.80, P = 0.57). STAI scores 1 hour after enrollment (after the music intervention) were significantly reduced in the intervention subjects compared to the control subjects (with reduction of 10.00 ± 12.29 vs. 1.88 ± 7.97, P = 0.03).


These pilot results suggest that music listening may be an effective tool for reducing anxiety among older adults in the ED.

Key words: Music, Anxiety, Emergency department, Randomized controlled trial

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