Music and suggestion : an exploration of the effects and mechanisms of an arts-based mind-body intervention for pain.


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Pain is a growing public healthcare challenge that affects millions each year. Despite recent scientific advances in the diagnosis and treatment of pain, pain is often undertreated. Undertreated pain is associated with higher rates of developing comorbid chronic diseases, mental health issues, chronic pain, and disability. There is growing scientific support for the use of arts-based mind-body interventions, such as music and suggestions, in multidisciplinary pain management. However, it is largely unknown how, and for whom, these treatments may be most beneficial. It has been proposed that music and suggestions may be an effective adjunct in pain management through multiple psychological mechanisms, including relaxation, emotion, distraction, self-efficacy, expectation and absorption. The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of music and suggestion to music alone on pain, and to explore possible mechanisms for their action. Sixty-six college-aged females were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial comparing music listening combine with positive suggestions to music listening and a no-treatment control on cold pressor pain. Participants completed a battery of psychological and physiological measures to provide further insight into the possible variables related to the observed effects of music and suggestion on pain. The results of this study indicate that music with or without suggestion may be beneficial in improving certain dimensions of pain. A discussion of the implications and limitations of these findings follows.



Pain. Music. Suggestion. Experimental.