Customer stress-relaxation: the impact of music in a hospital waiting room

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Customer stress-relaxation: the impact of music in a hospital waiting room


Although music is frequently utilized in medical waiting rooms in an attempt to potentially decrease anxiety and enhance the environment, the mechanisms of how and why music might impact waiting rooms are not yet understood. More specifically, it is unclear how live music might affect environmental factors, patients, caregivers, staff, and the performing musicians. The purpose of these mixed methods pilot studies was to investigate the perceptions of patients, musicians, and staff members who experienced live music in gynecological oncology (Phase I) and chemotherapy (Phase II) waiting rooms. Many cancer patients experience anxiety while waiting for various types of medical appointments. The waiting room environment, including physical attractiveness and general ambience, can influence patients’ perceptions of the quality of care they receive (Becker & Douglass, 2008). More attractive environments can also be associated with less patient anxiety.


Participants’ comments revealed that environmental changes such as fresh flowers and live music may positively impact patients’ clinic experience. Music was considered relaxing, beautiful, enjoyable, and a distraction. Participants requested the music continue in the waiting room and, in one case, suggested the addition of music therapy to the chemotherapy treatment floor. The live music facilitate increased and positive changes in various interpersonal interactions, which may have contributed to a sense of community and normalization among people faced with similar circumstances.

Live music appeared to positively impact the environment by creating a relaxing environment and providing a distraction from the anxiety of waiting.

““The music is a fantastic touch. Please continue!”

Music and patients
Many patients experienced anxiety concerning their visits and live music provided a positive distraction from negative affective states. Staff members also perceived positive changes in patients’ affect with the presence of live music. Staff members commonly described music as relaxing, soothing, and calming. Additionally, live music elicited positive affective changes in people by highlighting moments of happiness and reducing anxiety by distracting patients. Musicians observed patients crying, dancing, and falling asleep. Patients, caregivers, and staff also exhibited a wide range of physical responses to the music. Musicians observed many non-verbal reactions including smiles, winks, head nods, foot tapping, dancing, clapping, and adjusting proximity to be closer to the musicians. Some people sang along, requested songs, and engaged in conversation with the musicians or others around them. Crying was observed on one occasion, although it was not clear if the crying was related to the music.

Music and staff
Staff members found that live music elicited a range of positive emotions and responses in themselves, including decreased stress and increased work productivity. Live music was also associated with an improved work environment characterized by a welcoming atmosphere. Staff members appreciated the music both personally and for the patients’ wellbeing.

One staff member felt the music was mildly distracting but also felt it was an “extra special touch” for patients. Additionally, the live music may have positively impacted patient confidentiality by masking communication and providing a distraction from patient-staff interactions.


How to conduct similar music research for your brand



The goal was to investigate the perceptions of patients, musicians, and staff members who experienced live music in gynaecological oncology  and chemotherapy waiting rooms.

H1: Are a satisfaction in patients and caregivers who hear live music and patients and caregivers who hear no music in gynecological oncology and chemotherapy waiting rooms?

H2: What are the perceptions of patients, caregivers, musicians, and staff members who experienced live music in gynecological oncology  and chemotherapy waiting rooms?

  • A gynecologic cancer clinic and a chemotherapy waiting room waiting room of a university affiliated hospital in the Midwest, USA.
  • Female and male patients.
  • Clinic visit satisfaction surveys.





A) Patients:  Clinic visit satisfaction survey.

18-item survey included seven demographic questions, 10 questions regarding various measures regarding the respondent’s experience in the clinic, and one open-ended prompt for further comments.

Questions regarding clinic waiting room perceptions were rated on five-point Likert-type scales (1 = low satisfaction; 5 = high satisfaction).

– Age
– Previous appointments
– Satisfaction with check-in
– Stress/anxiety level
– Duration of wait time
– Waiting room environment
– Overall clinic environment
– Staff helpfulness
– Staff respect
– Provider care
– Clinic care
– Recommendation

B) Staff. 

Questions addressed staff’s impressions of live music in the waiting room, whether they felt live music interfered with their job performance, and whether the live music helped increase patient confidentiality.

Utilizing a seven-point Likert-type scale, staff members rated the degree to which they would recommend live music in the waiting room (1 = not recommend; 7 = highly recommend).

– “Quantitatively rate their recommendations concerning the presence of live music in the waiting room”.

C) The musicians.

After each music condition session, the performing musician wrote in a reflexive journal concerning her experience performing music

C) Focus group.

After each phase, the researchers conducted focus groups to discuss their perceptions and experiences throughout the studies.The focus groups were video- and audio-recorded, transcribed, sent to focus group members for member-checking, and analyzed.

– Does live music distracted patients resulting in in positive affective and physical changes?
– Does staff experienced positive affective and environmental benefits of live music?
– Musician Sensitivity, Quality, and Repertoire.
– Music Facilitated Interaction and Ensuing Sense of Community.

H1. Perceived mood will mediate the relationship between congruence of background music and approach behavior.

H2. Co-creation will moderate the impact of congruence of background music on perceived mood.

H3a. Individuals with co-creation will perceive a positive mood regardless of the initial congruence of background music with a coffee shop environment.

H3b. Individuals without co-creation will perceive a positive mood only when background music is congruent with a coffee shop environment.