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Individual music listening in intensive care units (ICU) has more frequently reported benefits for reducing anxiety and pain. 

There may be benefits in reducing heart rate and respiratory rate. There is a lack of research in the ICU setting that examines the effects of active music-based interventions, for example, where patients play instruments as part of structured exercises for cognitive or physical rehabilitation or improvise music with a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registered Music Therapist in ways that may benefit emotional well-being in addition to physical and cognitive function, including management of deconditioning.

The search string of the present scoping review was used on 25 January 2022 and then again for PubMed on 24 June 2023 and brought up any research using music or music therapy in the intensive care setting. Out of 139 titles, 45 full texts were included, with a total of 3,441 participants. Forty-three studies meeting the inclusion criteria used pre-recorded music, ranging from cassette to CDs, audio files, and MP3, most often delivered using headphones, some with audio pillows. All interventions were passive (listening) except for one, which delivered music played live. More research is needed into the workings of active and receptive music therapy in the adult ICU.

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