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Trends in music preferences of patients undergoing routine awake cataract surgery

Josephine Bates1, Simon Madge2,3, Ben While2,3

1Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Trust, Devon, United Kingdom. 2The Wye Clinic, Hereford, United Kingdom. 3Hereford County Hospital, Hereford, United Kingdom


Introduction: Literature has established music's positive value in operating theatres. It subjectively and objectively reduces patient anxiety, regardless of genre. When patients make direct requests, music can facilitate their perception of control during awake surgery. This study aims to elucidate how many patients will make specific requests during awake elective cataract surgery if given the choice, and which requests are most common.

Methods: With a prospective longitudinal ecologic design, a simple spreadsheet collected demographic data for all patients undergoing awake phacoemulsification at the Wye Clinic in Hereford (May 2022 to January 2023). Patients were asked to choose music for the duration of surgery. Preferences were categorised into ‘specific genre’, ‘specific era’, ‘other specific request’, ‘surgeon’s preference’ and ‘wanted no music’. Two professional composer-musicians (romantic-modern, and jazz) aided with data description; analysis was done using R.

Results: Data was captured from 272 surgeries, for patients aged 34 to 94 years (x̄ = 74.9). Requests for a particular song or artist, specific genre, for vague requests, the surgeon’s preference, or era specific music were made by 43.0%, 31.6% (classical and jazz were most common), 6.3% and 2.6%, respectively.

Given music’s benefits for patients during awake surgery, it should be offered where possible. This study shows that given the choice, most patients undergoing routine cataract surgery will make a specific request. Where a minority opt for the surgeon’s preference, the expanded results can help cataract surgeons make an informed choice to optimise the reduction of patient anxiety.