Music Can Lower Pain, Anxiety and Improve Quality of Life in Cancer Patients
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DATE PUBLISHED: 8/23/11
Music can alleviate much of the intense emotional, physical and social suffering that having cancer can cause, according to a new analysis of previous trials.
The review, which included 30 trials and a total of 1891 participants, found that music therapy and music medicine interventions may have a beneficial effect on anxiety, pain, mood, quality of life, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure in cancer patients. The analysis included 17 trials that used listening to pre-recorded music and 13 trials which used music therapy interventions that actively engaged the patient.
Music interventions have been used to alleviate symptoms and to treat side effects in cancer patients for some time, the analysis determined.
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), music is offered to help patients and caregivers relax, reduce stress and improve their quality of life as part of an extensive mind-body medicine program. The Patient Empowered Care® model at CTCA combines state-of-the-art clinical treatments and technology with an array of complementary therapies – such as nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, oncology rehabilitation, mind-body medicine and spiritual support – to help manage side effects and improve quality of life.
Our music group originated a few years ago at our regional hospital in Chicago,” said Dr. Katherine Puckett, PhD, MS, MSW, LCSW, and national director of mind-body for CTCA. “Patients took the lead on shaping the group, and we have since extended programming across our hospital network.”
Puckett said music used for therapeutic purposes is one of many stress and anxiety-reducing options and outlets available not only to patients at CTCA, but also for caregivers, and sometimes even for staff.
“Like our treatment model overall, music is individualized based on what is most valued by patients,” Puckett added. At CTCA in Phoenix, a musician sits with patients one-on-one and composes personal, improvisational music pieces. At other CTCA hospitals, calming background music is played during Reiki therapy and music lending is offered in library and patient resources areas.
The authors of the analysis, from Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, determined that the music interventions may lead to small reductions in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. In addition, music interventions may have beneficial effects on anxiety, pain, mood and quality of life in people with cancer.
The authors caution, however, that more research is needed. They could not draw any conclusions about the effect of music interventions on distress, body image, oxygen saturation level, immunologic functioning, spirituality and communication outcomes because there were not enough trials looking at these aspects.
To read more about music’s effect on cancer patients, go to: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/08/09/music.soothes.anxiety.cancer/index.html