Summary Trial/Endodontics

Evidence-Based Dentistry (2009) 10, 15. doi:10.1038/sj.ebd.6400629

Music may reduce anxiety during invasive procedures in adolescents and adults

Question: Does listening to music reduce anxiety in patients undergoing root canal treatment?

Address for correspondence: Hui-ling Lai, Department of Nursing, Tzu Chi University, Hualien, Taiwan. e-mail:

JT Newton1

1King's College London, London, UK

Lai Hl, Hwang MJ, Chen CJ, Chang KF, Peng TC, Chang Fm. Randomised controlled trial of music on state anxiety and physiological indices in patients undergoing root canal treatment. J Clin Nurs 2008; 17: 2654–2660





A block randomised controlled trial was conducted.



Patients in the music (test) group listened to selected sedative music using headphones throughout the root canal treatment procedure. The control group subjects wore headphones but without the music.

Outcome measure


Anxiety was measured before the study and at the end of the treatment procedure. Patients' heart rate, blood pressure and finger temperature were measured before the study and every 10 min until the end of the root canal treatment procedure.



The results revealed that there were no significant differences between the two groups for baseline data and procedure-related characteristics, except for gender. The subjects in the music group, however, showed a significant increase in finger temperature and a decrease in anxiety score over time compared with the control group. The effect size for state anxiety and finger temperature was 0.34 and 0.14, respectively.



Relaxing music administered through headphones to subjects during root canal treatment decreased the procedure-related anxiety of the patients and significantly increased finger temperature, but does not significantly affect blood pressure and heart rate over the procedure.