Providing men with noise-canceling headphones that play music may be a simple intervention for reducing their anxiety and pain perception while they are undergoing a prostate biopsy.

In a study conceived by medical students at Duke Cancer Institute, which is part of the Duke University Health System in Durham, North Carolina, 88 patients scheduled for prostate biopsy were randomized to one of three groups for the procedure:

  • One group wore noise-canceling headphones through which they listened to Bach concertos.
  • One group wore the headphones but had no accompanying music.
  • The control group wore no headphones and heard no music.

Each patient completed pain and anxiety questionnaires and underwent other physiologic parameters before and after biopsy.

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Pain scores increased from baseline across all three groups, with the lowest mean score in the headphones-and-music group. In addition, diastolic blood pressure remained stable in that group following biopsy, but increased in the headphones-only and control groups, indicating that the men who had music delivered through their headphones had less physiologic response to anxiety and pain compared with the other participants (Urology. 2012;79[1]:32-36).