Residency

The effect of music on junior residents in the operating room

Residency Program Insider, January 20, 2009

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It’s common for professionals in any field to listen to music while they’re working. Surgeons are no different—many enjoy playing music as they operate. But can the kind of music surgeons listen to affect the performance of junior residents in the operating room?

According to a new study in Surgical Endoscopy, music can distract residents while performing procedures.

Researchers in Switzerland recruited 45 residents who had no previous laparoscopic experience and divided them into three groups. Researchers asked all three groups to perform the same surgical task five times on a laparoscopic simulator while listening to music. The first group listened to activating (upbeat) music; the second group listened to deactivating music; and the third group listened to no music.

Researchers measured the following performance indicators for each participant:

  • Overall score in performing the task
  • Task time
  • Distance instrument traveled
  • Resident’s heart rate


Although all participants’ performance improved with repetition, the overall score among groups differed. The scores were the following, with the highest number being the best performance:

  • Group one: 35 points
  • Group two: 66 points
  • Group three: 91 points


Based on this evidence, researchers suggest that attending physicians should consider turning music off while educating residents in the operating room.



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