Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Music Interventions Reduce Anxiety, Pain in Cancer Patients

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Music Interventions Reduce Anxiety, Pain in Cancer Patients

Article excerpt

DENVER--Playing a musical instrument, singing, or simply listening to recorded music resulted in significant reduction in anxiety scores in patients with cancer, according to a Cochrane Database systematic review and meta-analysis.

At the palliative care conference, Dr. Wendy Anderson highlighted the Cochrane review findings as particularly onpoint for her colleagues in oncology and palliative medicine (Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2011 [doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006911]).

"In palliative care we're always trying to make the best of a difficult situation, and sometimes the best way to do this is through a nonpharmacologic intervention, even though it means doing something outside of our comfort zone," commented Dr. Anderson of the University of California, San Francisco.

Prior studies of music interventions in patients with cancer have been quite small. The Cochrane meta-analysis was designed to yield stronger, more definitive conclusions by incorporating those small studies which were sufficiently similar to combine.

The Cochrane report by investigators in the department of creative arts therapies at Drexel University in Philadelphia included 30 randomized clinical trials in seven countries with a total of 1,891 participating patients of all ages and with all types of cancer. In all, 13 trials involved the use of trained music therapists, while in the other 17 the intervention consisted of listening to various genres of pre-recorded music selected by the patients. Sessions were typically 30-45 minutes in length.

The number of sessions varied widely from study to study. Subjects in the control arm received usual care or in some studies listened to white noise through headphones.

Sixteen randomized trials assessed anxiety. Collectively they showed that music interventions achieved statistically and clinically meaningful reductions in anxiety scores, with median to large effect sizes. …

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