Objective: Surgery is an important part of the treatment modalities offered to older patients with cancer. Natural ageing processes lead to deterioration of organ function, making older patients more vulnerable and at risk for experiencing less-favourable outcomes and complications after surgery. Non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as music, may be preferable to medical interventions in older people, who are at risk for adverse effects and drug interactions due to altered physiology and drug metabolism. We aimed to assess the effect of music on postoperative recovery in older patients and to determine the underpinning theoretical models

Materials and Methods: This systematic review used the databases PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsychINFO, and Repertoire International de Litterature Musicale (RILM). Clinical studies published, until 2015, investigating music as a single intervention for hospitalised patients postoperative, population mean age 60 years or older were selected. All types of postoperative music interventions, consisting of single or more sessions, which take place at a hospital ward. All patient outcomes were included. The search and screening was performed twice, independently, and seventeen articles were finally selected.

Results: Four theoretical models were detected underpinning the effect of music on postoperative recovery. The way the music interventions were shaped, varied strongly. Therefore it remained unclear what is the most effective way of performing the music in the postoperative period. Although evidence is still limited, results do show that music has a positive effect on the recovery of older patients after surgery. Pain and anxiety are reduced, and relaxation, cognitive functioning, and patient satisfaction increase during postoperative recovery. No negative side effects of music as an intervention were found and therefore seems a non-harming and non-invasive intervention.

Conclusion: It seems worthwhile to further explore live music making in music interventions with older hospitalised surgical patients. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-559
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geriatric Oncology
Issue number6
Early online date17-Apr-2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2018


  • Elderly
  • Music
  • Surgery
  • Theoretical models
  • Postoperative outcomes

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