Sooraj Shah ’24
A rise in chronic respiratory and cardiac ailments has been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. However, one overlooked consequence of COVID-19 is isolation, which increases the risk of developing stress-related disorders, such as anxiety and depression, as patients ponder whether separation is permanent. Previous research supports music as an important tool in addressing this psychological distress, as it has been shown to decrease breathing rates, blood pressure, and ease the process of sedation. However, the use of music therapy on COVID-19 patients has not been explored. A study led by University of Bari Aldo Moro researcher Filippo Giordano focused on the use of music therapy as a means of reducing anxiety and inducing relaxation in patients.
For the study, researchers used a sample size of 20 patients for both the control group (CG) and treatment group (MG). The team randomly assigned patients via a computer program. While the CG received regular care, each patient in the MG listened to music through an iPod/MP3 player controlled by a music therapist. Patient assessments helped to assess comfort and understand patient-specific needs. Researchers curated a playlist with various genres of music based on the assessment. State-Trait Anxiety Inventory – Y1 (STAI-Y1) was used to measure anxiety levels on a four-point scale. STAI-Y1 defines values less than 40 as no anxiety, 40-50 as mild, 51-60 as moderate, and greater than 59 as severe. Heart rate, measured as the difference in oxygen saturation between the beginning and end of treatment, and oxygen saturation were also recorded before and after treatment.
While oxygen saturation rose from 96.50% to 97.50% in MG patients, values remained constant for the CG. Heart rate decreased favorably in the MG group. Although the CG had no difference in STAI-Y1 values, there was a significant reduction (42 to 34.50) for the MG, indicative of lower stress levels. According to the scale, 70% of the patients in the MG group had no anxiety while 30% had very low anxiety. As anxiety majorly contributes to mental disorders, Giordano believes music therapy may help treat stress factors present alongside COVID-19 treatment and isolation. Music, which targets the parasympathetic nervous system, may help relax muscles, control breathing, and lower heart rates. As low oxygen saturation and higher heart rates are prominent symptoms of COVID-19, future research should focus on extending the use of music therapy to patients with similar conditions.
 Giordano, F., Losurdo, A., Quaranta, V.N. et al. Effect of single session receptive music therapy on anxiety and vital parameters in hospitalized COVID-19 patients: a randomized controlled trial. Sci Rep 12, 3154 (2022). doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-07085-8
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