Genote at the Vicenza Hospital

After months of preparation, we finally get to start our music protocol at the Vicenza Hospital! After getting cleared by the Internal Review Board, we have the opportunity to test our entire procedure for pain management with babies for the first time.

The randomized study was designed to evaluate the effects of a Structured Music Listening Protocol on pain reduction for newborn babies that are going through a metabolic screening test 36 hours after birth. The test requires the nurse to prick a baby’s heel and squeeze some blood on a special paper to be sent to the lab for the analysis. Since newborn babies don’t have a high volume of blood, the pressure required to get enough blood out for the test can go on for several minutes.


Our hypothesis was that the babies receiving the music intervention, in addition to the standardized technique, might show a beneficial effects on pain reduction and pain management.

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The morning the study was to begin, we had a brief meeting to introduce the research implementation staff to the procedure. The staff was represented by a pediatrician, a nurse, and two obstetric students. After the doctor described the procedure and Edoardo Guerra, our CSO and resident psychologist, presented some important aspects of the music methodology, we entered a small room selected for its low sound level.

Each of us were very focused and anxious for the first trial. The team of nurses selected two babies at random. The first received the procedure as per the standard hospital procedures (without music) and the second received the an additional Structured Listening Protocol. We paid close attention to everything that could affect the baby in the study: the type of light, sound level, distance of the speaker for the music, etc. Our preparation was scrupulously evaluated, up to the moment we were ready for our first baby. 

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The nurses brought the first baby inside the room with his cradle. He was sleeping and in a very quiet state. They placed him on the changing table and started the restraint procedure (wrapping technique and a pacifier with sucrose). The nurse pricked the baby’s heel and started squeezing the blood out for the analysis. The baby’s heart rate changed significantly and he went from a state of sleep to being agitated and fussy. The nurses were more tense, too. By the end of the several minute procedure, the baby was agitated and tired.

Then it was the second baby’s turn. He was sleeping too, but after he entered the room he started to wake up grumpily. The nurses did the same procedure, taking the same amount of time as they did with the other baby, but this time they turned on the Structured Listening Music Protocol. After they turned the music on the room’s environment changed completely, going from a harsh/cold medical room to a familiar and more qualitative care environment. The music was imposing they baby’s rhythm, emotion, and beauty on us. But more importantly, it was affecting the baby too. After just a few seconds of music, he listened to it, he turned toward it, and gradually returned to a quiet state. The nurse continued the procedure, and the baby never changed his quiet state throughout the entire procedure. The nurses were more relaxed and the baby was put in his cradle again and returned to his mom.

We won’t know the official results from the study at the Vicenza Hospital for quite some time, but these experiences give us a firm hope and a renewed resolution to advance music’s collaboration with medicine.

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