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It's known that surgery elicits a stress response involving the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which is important in general recovery but can also have detrimental effects in older patients. Music seems to positively effect postoperative recovery, although the mechanism requires further unravelling. Our objective was to explore the response of the ANS to live bedside music in older surgical patients, by using heart rate variability (HRV) as a proxy. This explorative prospective non-randomized controlled cohort study included 101 older non-cardiac surgical patients, with a median age of 70 (range 60-88 years). HRV was measured in a cohort receiving live bedside music provided by professional musicians and in a control group that did not receive music. HRV was measured pre-intervention, during the intervention, 30 min after the intervention, and again after three hours. Mixed linear modelling was used to assess the effect of the intervention compared to the control group over time. A significant change in both the low and high frequency bands (p = 0.041) and (p = 0.041) respectively, was found over time in the music group compared to the control group indicating relaxation and increased parasympathetic activity in the music group. Other measures revealed a trend but no significant effect was shown. These results provide a first glance and contribute to a better understanding of the effect of music on the recovery of older surgical patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20-Nov-2023

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