Music interventions can improve psychological and physical health in cancer patients

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music interventions

Having cancer may result in extensive emotional, physical and social suffering. Currently, music interventions have been used to alleviate symptoms and treatment side effects in cancer patients.

In a recent review and meta-analysis, scientists find that music interventions can help improve psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients. The finding is published in Cochrane Library.

Researchers from Drexel University in Philadelphia conducted the meta-analysis. They assessed and compared the effects of music therapy and music medicine interventions for psychological and physical outcomes in people with cancer.

They searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and several other public databases, including MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, LILACS, CancerLit, CAIRSS, Proquest ClinicalTrials.gov, and Current Controlled Trials.

They included all studies of music interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in adult and child patients with cancer.

A total of 52 studies with 3,731 participants were included. They focused music therapy interventions offered by trained music therapists, as well as music medicine interventions. There were 23 studies used music therapy and 29 studies used music medicine.

The results showed that music interventions might have a beneficial effect on anxiety in people with cancer. Patients showed lower anxiety and a possible lower depression on several psychiatry tests. No effect of music interventions was found on mood or distress.

Researchers suggest that music therapy and music medicine interventions may have a beneficial effect on anxiety, pain, fatigue, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure in people with cancer.

In addition, music therapy may improve patients’ quality of life.

However, because of the very low quality of the evidence for depression, it is unclear what impact music interventions may have.

Future research will examine the effect of music interventions on immunologic functioning, coping, resilience or communication outcomes in cancer patients.


Citation: Bradt J, et al. (2016). Music interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients. Cochrane Library, published online. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006911.pub3.
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