Music Therapy May Ease Anxiety in Cancer Patients

Manila Bulletin, August 16, 2011 | Go to article overview

Music Therapy May Ease Anxiety in Cancer Patients


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Music therapy might help lower anxiety and improve mood in people with cancer, say researchers who analyzed past studies.

It's not entirely clear from those studies what kind of music-related treatment -- going to sessions with a music therapist, or listening to pre-recorded CDs during hospital visits -- might help patients most.

But music therapist Debra Burns, from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said therapists especially can help patients relax during stressful treatments and think through their tension.

"We can use the different music interventions to target the in-the-moment symptoms -- pain, anxiety. But we can also look at longer-term interventions," such as improving communication with family members, said Burns, who was not involved in the review.

For the analysis, creative arts therapist Joke Bradt from Drexel University in Philadelphia and her colleagues reviewed data from 30 past studies that looked at the effect of music therapy or music listening in close to 2,000 cancer patients.

Compared to patients who only received standard cancer treatment, the combined data from the studies suggested that patients who also had music treatment rated their anxiety and pain lower and had higher mood scores. In addition, their heart rates were lower by about four beats per minute, on average.

There was no effect, however, on how patients rated their depression or fatigue.

That's probably because most of the studies only tested the effect of listening to music in the hospital for a single session, and didn't give patients much choice about what type of music they listened to, Bradt said.

"If someone's really depressed, one music listening session is not going to reverse that," she told Reuters Health.

While there wasn't enough data to determine if going to a music therapist helped patients more than listening to CDs, Bradt said she suspects that's the case. …

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