Medicine’s Melodies: On the Costs & Benefits of Music, Soundscapes, & Noise in Healthcare Settings

Charles Spence, Steve Keller


A large and growing body of empirical research now demonstrates the positive impact that music and other auditory stimuli (such as nature soundscapes) can have across the entire spectrum of the healthcare ecosystem. From the point of entry and onward to the operating room/theatre, in the peri-operational environment, patient wards, and medical waiting rooms, music affects all of those who hear it: Patients, their families, surgeons, caregivers, and hospital staff alike. In the age of the “experience economy,” where patients are considered both guests and consumers, private healthcare is increasingly starting to focus on customer satisfaction, and its impact on both financial performance and (not unrelated) health outcomes. In this review, we summarize the latest evidence concerning the impact of music, soundscapes, and noise, on medical outcomes and healthcare provision. We highlight the importance of the auditory (and, ultimately, the multisensory) environment, not only for health and well-being, but also in terms of improving patient satisfaction and managing costs.


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