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Delirium is a highly prevalent and morbid syndrome in intensive care units (ICUs). Changing the stressful environment within the ICU via music may be an effective and a scalable way to reduce the burden of delirium.


The Decreasing Delirium through Music (DDM) study is a three-arm, single-blind, randomized controlled feasibility trial.

Sixty patients admitted to the ICU with respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation will be randomized to one of three arms (20 participants per arm): (1) personalized music, (2) non-personalized relaxing music, or (3) attention-control. Music preferences will be obtained from all enrolled participants or their family caregivers. Participants will receive two 1-h audio sessions a day through noise-cancelling headphones and mp3 players. Our primary aim is to determine the feasibility of the trial design (recruitment, adherence, participant retention, design and delivery of the music intervention). Our secondary aim is to estimate the potential effect size of patient-preferred music listening in reducing delirium, as measured by the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU (CAM-ICU). Participants will receive twice daily assessments for level of sedation and presence of delirium. Enrolled participants will be followed in the hospital until death, discharge, or up to 28 days, and seen in the Critical Care Recovery Clinic at 90 days.


DDM is a feasibility trial to provide personalized and non-personalized music interventions for critically ill, mechanically ventilated patients. Our trial will also estimate the preliminary efficacy of music interventions on reducing delirium incidence and severity.

Trial registration, Identifier: NCT03095443. Registered on 23 March 2017.


Final version published at