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The role and outcomes of music listening for women in childbirth: an integrative review

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-01, 11:38 authored by Tríona McCaffreyTríona McCaffrey, Pui Sze CheungPui Sze Cheung, MAEBH BARRYMAEBH BARRY, PATTIE PUNCHPATTIE PUNCH, Liz Dore
Aim To synthesise primary research on the role and use of music listening for women in childbirth. Design Integrative review. Methods Whittemore and Knafl's (2005) five-stage integrative review method was utilized to complete a systematic search of the literature. Studies were included if they were (a) peer-reviewed, (b) written in the English language, (c) published between 1 January 1979 and 5 April 2019 and (d) described the use of music listening during labour and birth. Studies were appraised for quality and methodological rigor using standardised assessment tools including the Critical Appraisal Skills Programmes (CASP) checklist for the qualitative studies and the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Tool for the quasi-experimental studies and randomised control trials. Data extrapolation, methodological quality assessment and Thematic Content Analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006) were carried out. Findings A total of 931 articles were retrieved and 24 papers were included in the review (12 randomized controlled trials, 9 quasi-experimental and 3 qualitative). The quality of the studies was moderately good overall. Two overarching themes emerged including ‘outcomes of using music in childbirth’ and, ‘music application during childbirth’. Within ‘outcomes of using music in childbirth’ four subthemes are described: ‘pain’, ‘anxiety’, ‘psychological supports’ and ‘progression of labour’. Within ‘music application during childbirth’ four themes are presented: ‘timing of the music application’, ‘type of music’, ‘birth preparation using music’ and ‘mode of music listening’. Conclusion and implications for practice The findings indicate that music listening has a significant role to play for women in childbirth. This non-pharmacological intervention can reduce pain and anxiety while offering a multifaceted form of psychological support to alleviate stress and promote an increased sense of control in women during labour. However, further awareness is needed around the idiosyncratic nature of the music listening experience.



Midwifery;83, 102627






This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Midwifery. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Midwifery, 2020, 83 , 102627,



Department or School

  • Glucksman Library
  • Nursing and Midwifery
  • Irish World Academy of Music & Dance

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