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Pain (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - Physical, Integrative, Behavioral, and Psychosocial Interventions

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Additional points: Some of the things that may comfort you, such as your favorite music or a prayer, can probably be recorded for you. Then you can listen to the tape whenever you wish. Or, if your memory is strong, you may simply close your eyes and recall the events or words.

Exercise 4. Active listening to recorded music *

  1. Obtain the following:
    • A cassette player or tape recorder. (Small, battery-operated ones are more convenient.)
    • Earphones or a headset. (Helps focus the attention better than a speaker a few feet away, and avoids disturbing others.)
    • A cassette of music you like. (Most people prefer fast, lively music, but some select relaxing music. Other options are comedy routines, sporting events, old radio shows, or stories.)
  2. Mark time to the music; for example, tap out the rhythm with your finger or nod your head. This helps you concentrate on the music rather than on your discomfort.
  3. Keep your eyes open and focus on a fixed spot or object. If you wish to close your eyes, picture something about the music.
  4. Listen to the music at a comfortable volume. If the discomfort increases, try increasing the volume; decrease the volume when the discomfort decreases.
  5. If this is not effective enough, try adding or changing one or more of the following: massage your body in rhythm to the music; try other music; or mark time to the music in more than one manner, such as tapping your foot and finger at the same time.

Additional points: Many patients have found this technique to be helpful. It tends to be very popular, probably because the equipment is usually readily available and is a part of daily life. Other advantages are that it is easy to learn and not physically or mentally demanding. If you are very tired, you may simply listen to the music and omit marking time or focusing on a spot.

*Adapted and reprinted with permission from McCaffery M, Beebe A: Pain: Clinical Manual for Nursing Practice. St. Louis, Mo: CV Mosby: 1989.

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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