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April 12, 1995

Cardiovascular Reactivity Among Surgeons: Not Music to Everyone's Ears

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Diego

JAMA. 1995;273(14):1090-1091. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520380026023

To the Editor.  —Drs Allen and Blascovich1 are to be congratulated for pursuing an important avenue of research— the potential effect of a performance-shaping factor,2 listening to music, on clinical task performance. In their well-controlled laboratory study, surgeons performed a cognitively demanding task (serial subtraction) with greater speed and accuracy but less stress (less autonomic reactivity) when preferred music was being played compared with nonpreferred or no music. Unfortunately, the authors' concluding statement, which implies an essential role for music in the operating room, is not substantiated by their data. First, the results of their study may not be generalizable to the surgeon performing in the operating room. Second, they neglect to consider the potential impact of playing a surgeon's preferred music on other members of the operating room team.Several methodological aspects of the authors' study may limit the applicability of their results to the real-life environment.

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