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Investigating the cognitive mechanisms of music listening interventions in pain management settings: A Scoping Review Protocol

Claire Howlin, Suzanne Guerin, Bendan Rooney


Aim: The aim of this review is to examine what is known from the existing literature about the characteristics of effective music listening interventions used in analgesic settings. 

Background: While meta-analyses demonstrate the effectiveness of music listening interventions, regardless of whether they are classed as music medicine or music therapy, it is not yet clear how the positive effects of music listening interventions (MLIs) are mediated. The absence of defined cognitive mechanisms coincides with inconsistencies in terms of how MLIs are delivered and evaluated with wide variability in terms of duration, frequency, style, genre, equipment, preparation, choice, rationale, personnel adopted and often a lack of suitable controls. Future improvement and refinement of MLIs depends on identifying the characteristics that mediate analgesic effects.

Design: The protocol was designed using the principles from Arksey and O’Malley (2005) and Levac (2010).

Methods: The protocol includes decisions about the review objectives, search strategy, inclusion/exclusion criteria, article selection process, data charting and synthesis and quality assessment.

Discussion: The scoping review will help to identify what is known from the existing literature about the characteristics of effective MLIs used in analgesic settings and will contribute to guidance on optimal MLI design.


Analgesia, arousal, arts and health, interventions, music cognition, music therapy, pain management, person-centered healthcare, wellbeing

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