Conclusions changed for music therapy – Cochrane Review

Having heard about Cochrane reviews, and knowing how respected they are, I was intrigued to see a Cochrane Review tagged “Conclusions changed” and entitled Music interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients.

With the growing body of research, it appears music therapy is now recommended for inclusion in cancer care, compared to a few years ago.

From 2016:

We conclude that music interventions may have beneficial effects on anxiety, pain, fatigue and quality of life (QoL) in people with cancer. Furthermore, music may have a small positive effect on heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Reduction of anxiety, fatigue and pain are important outcomes for people with cancer, as they have an impact on health and overall QoL. Therefore, we recommend considering the inclusion of music therapy and music medicine interventions in psychosocial cancer care.

From 2011:

This systematic review indicates that music interventions may have beneficial effects on anxiety, pain, mood, and QoL in people with cancer. Furthermore, music may have a small effect on heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. Most trials were at high risk of bias and, therefore, these results need to be interpreted with caution.

Interestingly, the review also compared “music therapy” with “music medicine”, their term for listening to pre-recorded music, offered by medical staff:

A comparison between music therapy and music medicine interventions suggests a moderate effect of music therapy interventions for patients’ quality of life (QoL), but we found no evidence of an effect for music medicine interventions.

So, plenty to think about here, and plenty to read further online


Music Therapy: Evidence & Proof

Back in 2013 Kim Ross wrote: “Why we shouldn’t try to prove that music therapy works” – this article has rung a few bells for me recently, particularly after digesting a range of music therapy research articles…

There appears to be a difference between seeking proof and gathering evidence. Working in an evidence-based way, one gathers research results, trials, experience and puts them into practice. Shifting focus to clients instead of critics can reframe research, as Kim says:

“The profession exists to help clients, and we must keep our clients’ wellbeing as the central focus and reason for our research”.

“Let’s not be afraid of research, or of people posing questions about music therapy and how it works.”

So, onwards with research, investigating and finding out more… starting with the BAMT UK music therapy conference this weekend organised entitled “Re-Visioning our Voice: Resourcing music therapy for contemporary needs”.

TIME-A: trial of music therapy with autism

Exciting times, right now there’s a global randomised controlled trial of music therapy with children on the autism spectrum – known as TIME-A (Trial of Improvisational Music therapy’s Effectiveness for children with Autism)

More than 360 children aged 4-7 are involved already, and the first results will be available in mid-2016 – the largest research of non-pharmacological therapy for autism yet.

The study protocol is also available online.

More posts soon on autism & more.

Music to help carers

Here’s something I hadn’t thought about very much before – how can music help the people who care for someone close to them?

Staff at Nordoff-Robbins recently studied this in relation to dementia, read further in the links below.  Stating the phrase “music therapy contributes to the support of carers’ needs”63% of family members agreed, with lower figures for staff and managers (much higher for music therapists).  This compares to 100% who agreed “music therapy is part of treatment and support” for their family member with dementia.

Depending how you view 63%, you may think:

A – it’s great that the majority of people think music therapy helps support carers!

B – why is the figure not higher, and why is it different between carers and therapists?

Music offers potential to move beyond awkward silences, to breathe new life into regular routines, and to give people a different way to relate to each other.

Imagine bringing together people with their partners or children in a fun informal music group, where they are each involved in making the music, singing the songs, beating the rhythm – so everyone has their part to play…


Music therapy – Caring for Carers – Nordoff-Robbins

Between practice, policy and politics: Music therapy and the Dementia Strategy

The ‘ripple effect’: Towards researching improvisational music therapy in dementia care homes