Evidence-based medicine demands proof that a drug, device or procedure is safe and effective before being implemented. Evidence-based medicine also does the important job of challenging long-accepted practices and assumptions to seek out the best care for the patient. All this means a lot of research must be conducted. No argument there.
But, as with all resources, money, scientists to do the research, and outlets to publish the studies are limited. So much research is needed — what is the best treatment for stage 0 breast cancer? How can we stem the overwhelming use of opioids and still help people manage pain? Why are our children obese? Some valid research is conducted and can’t find a place to publish, so useful information gets lost.
Which is why I’m frustrated when I read about a study called Imaging-Guided Core-Needle Breast Biopsy: Impact of Meditation and Music Interventions on Patient Anxiety, Pain, and Fatigue, which was just published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology and reported in the NIH’s Medline Plus.
The research found that listening to meditation tapes or music during a needle breast biopsy lowered anxiety and fatigue for the patient. The patients also claimed to feel less pain. The standard of care that it was being compared to was casual conversation and support.
With all the significant research that we need in the world, why, oh, why are we wasting money proving what has already been proven to be beneficial (or at least non-harming), not to mention patently obvious?
I did a quick check of published studies that assessed the effectiveness of music during surgery to lower patients’ anxiety. According to the PubMed 2007 Review of 13 studies, half showed a benefit and half did not. None showed a negative experience. Only 6 studies asked the patients to report on their experience. All 6 studies of those studies had favorable reports from participants.
As an aside, what’s the deal with studies assessing anxiety and pain levels in patients that don’t ask patients for input?
Sometimes, a study conclusion looks obvious from the start, but an unconsidered factor appears in the study to contradict what looked so likely. That is why evidence-based medicine tests such apparent no-brainers as “could music calm a patient during a procedure.” But with more than a dozen studies showing no harm, why keep studying it?
Let’s put our research dollars where they can be most effective.