Bob Marley was right. A new study lead by a Drexel University researcher named Joke Bradt (she's in the Creative Arts Therapies Department) has shown that playing music for hospital patients on ventilators has measurable benefits.
In studies involving more than 200 intensive care patients, listening to music reduced anxiety and helped slow patients' breathing rates. More work is planned to determine if the type of music played is important. In most trials doctors had plumped for classical music, such as Mozart's piano sonatas, or easy listening. But it may be that for some patients other genres would work just as well, if not better.
"Holistic medicine" gets a bad rap as being unscientific, but as I've said before, the health benefits of things like listening to music or having a view of the outdoors are empirically demonstrable. These kinds of treatments have real efficacy—they just haven't been incorporated into the medical profession very well.