Music is often used as a nonpharmacological pain management strategy, but little evidence is available about its role in pediatric critical care patients.


To determine the effect of a live music intervention versus a recorded music intervention on heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate in pediatric critical care patients receiving mechanical ventilation and sedation.


An exploratory randomized controlled trial was performed in a pediatric intensive care unit. Participants were randomly allocated to receive a live music intervention with standard care or a recorded music intervention with standard care. Each intervention was delivered by a board-certified music therapist for 15 minutes. Heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure were measured at baseline and at 15-minute intervals for 60 minutes after the intervention.


A total of 33 patients aged 0 to 2 years completed the study: 17 were assigned to the live music group and 16 to the recorded music group. In the live music group, a significant reduction in heart rate was observed immediately after the intervention and was sustained at 60 minutes after the intervention. Although the live music group also exhibited a downward trend in blood pressure, those differences were not significant.


The results of this study indicate that live music interventions may be more effective than recorded music interventions in reducing pain and anxiety in pediatric critical care patients. The advantage of live music may be due to the adaptability of the music delivery by a trained music therapist.

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