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Prospective Randomized Study of the Effect of Music on the Efficiency of Surgical Closures

Shelby R. Lies MD, Andrew Y. Zhang MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/asj/sju161 sju161 First published online: 9 July 2015

Abstract

Background Music is commonly played in operating theaters. Some surgeons believe music reduces stress and operative time, while others think music is a distraction and should be avoided. There is limited published evidence evaluating the effects of music on surgical performance.

Objective The goal of this study is to evaluate the effect of music on simple wound closure.

Methods Plastic surgery residents were asked to perform layered closures on pigs' feet with and without their preferred music playing. Simple randomization was used to assign residents to the music playing first or music playing second group. The time to complete the repair was measured and repairs were graded by blinded faculty. Results were analyzed to determine significant differences in time to complete the task and quality of repair. Participants were retested in a second session with music played in the opposite order to evaluate consistency.

Results Listening to preferred music decreased repair time by 8% for all plastic surgery residents (p = 0.009). Subgroup analysis demonstrated even more significant improvement in speed for senior residents (PGY 4-6), resulting in a 10% decrease in repair time (p = 0.006). The quality of repair was also better in the music group, at 3.3 versus 3.1 (p = 0.047). Retesting revealed results remained significant whether music was played first or second.

Conclusions Playing preferred music made plastic surgery residents faster in completing wound closure with a 10% improvement in senior residents. Music also improved quality of repair as judged by blinded faculty. Our study showed that music improves efficiency of wound closure, which may translate to healthcare cost savings.

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