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NIHR Signal Music can reduce pain and anxiety following surgery
Recorded music played before, during or after surgery in adults reduces self-reported post-operative pain and anxiety, compared with usual care. The average effect is equivalent to a reduction in anxiety of 21 percentage points and a 10 percentage point reduction in pain within a few days of surgery. It is thought that placebo and distraction effects probably play a role, but in this review music still improved pain when used for patients under a general anaesthetic. Nearly two-thirds of patie...
NIHR Signal Yoga-based exercise can improve well-being for older people
Yoga-based exercise offers a safe and accessible way to improve health-related quality of life and mental well-being for people over 60. Evidence for a moderate benefit of yoga in later life now extends beyond improved balance and flexibility. Yoga includes stretches, poses, breathing routines and meditation. This review focused on the physical exercise/activity components. Most of the 12 included trials took place in Western countries and classes were all run by qualified yoga instructors as i...
NIHR Signal Specialist-led improvised music therapy did not improve children’s symptoms of autism
After five months, improvised music therapy added to enhanced usual care was no better than enhanced usual care alone for young children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Clinically meaningful improvements in social and communication skills were not achieved in either group over this time. This result from a large well designed NIHR-funded international trial contrasts with an earlier systematic review of small trials that suggested beneficial effects for this specialised therapy. Qualifi...
NIHR Signal Pilocarpine improves dry mouth caused by radiotherapy
Out of several treatments tested, the drug pilocarpine gave the most significant improvement in dry mouth following radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Less dry mouth and increased salivary flow were twice as likely after taking pilocarpine than after a dummy pill. Dry mouth from radiotherapy impairs quality of life. Although people can try simple measures at home, such as sucking ice cubes, they may wish to discuss pilocarpine treatment with their GP. Side effects from this medication are u...
NIHR Signal Acupuncture shown to have benefits for treatment of some chronic pain
Acupuncture is not a placebo for treatment of chronic pain. This NIHR-funded systematic review shows that acupuncture is better than usual care and sham acupuncture for pain from musculoskeletal conditions, knee osteoarthritis and chronic headache. This NIHR review was large with over 140 trials overall, and the direct comparison with sham acupuncture helps to address uncertainty around whether acupuncture gives clinical benefit above a “placebo effect.” Acupuncture had a smaller ef...
NIHR Signal Acupuncture shows promise for preventing episodic migraines
Acupuncture was about as effective as long term medication in reducing the number of migraines. There were fewer adverse events amongst people receiving acupuncture (16-17%) compared to drug treatment (34%). Migraines affect around one in seven people in the UK. Their unpleasant symptoms last between four and 72 hours and can impact on people’s ability to do everyday tasks, such as going to work. This systematic review looked at acupuncture delivered at least once a week for up to six se...
NIHR Signal Acupuncture may improve neck pain in the short-term
Acupuncture provided slightly greater improvement in neck pain in the short-term than sham treatments or being on a waiting list. There were too few studies available to determine its long-term effectiveness and the evidence around disability or quality of life was inconsistent. Most of the 27 trials included in this review were too varied for their results to be combined statistically and issues with the methodological quality of some studies limits the confidence that we can have in the findi...
NIHR Signal Listening to music reduces pain and anxiety for patients having surgery
This systematic review found that music can moderately reduce pain and anxiety when played before, during or after surgery. It also strongly increased patient satisfaction. Music was equally effective whether chosen by the patient or not. It was most effective when played before surgery and when the patient was conscious, though it was still effective even when played to the patient under general anaesthetic. Playing music may improve outcomes and patient satisfaction at no or marginal cost to t...
NIHR Signal Schools can provide valuable help for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
This series of NIHR-funded systematic reviews found that some things schools do (interventions) can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These were grouped into 15 main approaches including reward and punishment, skills training and self-management, creative-based therapies, such as music therapy, and structured physical activity. These reviews covered different strategies to change behaviour other than giving children medication. Most showed positive effects. Due to subs...
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