By Jeffrey Sklar

MUSIC IS COMMONLY HEARD IN THE LOBBIES AND WAITING ROOMS of doctors’ offices. Current literature reports how music facilitates stress reduction in patients while they sit in emergency and surgery waiting rooms.1,2,3

Because music is so diverse, it is important to consider specific forms to evaluate the impact on patient perception. For instance, the classical genre can be very relaxing. In 1998, research from the Department of Management Science, Science University of Tokyo looked at the influence of music on the body by comparing the difference of influence on heart rate variability and comfort when subjects listen to music and are exposed to noise. Researchers used rock, classical music and noise. The following conclusions were made:4 1) Hearing classical music results in a small variance of Mayer wave-related sinus arrhythmia (MWSA) component and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) component compared with a body at rest. This is because the sympathetic nerve is suppressed by the sound of classical music. With rock music and noise, however, the MWSA component increases and the RSA component decreases. 2) From a psychological evaluation, classical music tends to cause comfort, while rock music and noise tend to cause discomfort. 3) A correlation exists between the balance of the MWSA component and the RSA component and the psychological evaluation. As the comfort increases, the variance of MWSA decreases; as discomfort increases, the variance of MWSA increases.

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