Celebrated neurologist Oliver Sacks once wrote that music could "pierce the heart directly", that it needed "no mediation".
Sacks' writings might have led the debate in the public mind, but an increasing body of research is demonstrating the potential for music to help the healing process and one Canberra hospital has taken up the idea in an effort to improve clinical outcomes.
Canberra's Calvary John James Hospital last year began providing the CARE television channel for patients as an extra tool to help them find solace and promote healing in the busy wards – the second hospital outside the US to provide the channel.
Director of Mission at the hospital, Frances Brown, said that since introducing the channel there had been an overall "decrease in the level of noise" in the hospital's wards, and she believed the channel was helping staff to look after patient's "emotional and spiritual needs along with their physical care".
"The original music is appropriate for use in a healing environment, the visuals are uplifting, and the CARE Channel supports the circadian rhythms and includes a special night-time star-field for overnight broadcast to support restfulness and sleep," she said.
The hospital reported that two patients had emailed the US providers of the channel thanking them for the service.
One of the patients, Deborah Hamilton wrote that she was in hospital and she was "finding it excellent".
Ms Brown said recent research had shown providing such services could "significantly impact clinical outcomes" and out of all the senses, sound was the "most invasive factor" for patient wellbeing.