Music therapy continues to gain acceptance in hospice and palliative care with each passing year. Music therapy is a modality that can work towards improving pain perception, communication and quality of life for terminally ill patients. Additionally, a music therapist can use music to decrease agitation, depression, and disruptive behaviors. The music therapist focuses on using patient preferred music along with their expertise and education to accomplish these goals. Throughout the profession’s growing body of literature, some studies have suggested that music therapy can decrease the use of pain medicine while increasing the effectiveness of hospice team members and other caregivers.
Providing patients with care that seeks to improve their quality of life is always the main goal of any hospice. Some research shows that just a one-time music therapy intervention can improve quality of life. There is, however, a potential financial roadblock to music therapy being a more widely accepted and used therapy within hospice care. The researchers in this cost-benefit analysis sought to provide evidence that the cost of medicine for hospice patients who receive music therapy can be less than the cost of medicine for hospice patients who receive the standard care only (meaning they received no music therapy services). Music therapy sessions provided to the patients were individualized by a board-certified music therapist and completed one-to-one. The results of this specific retrospective study concluded that the medicine cost for patients who received music therapy was approximately three thousand dollars less than the cost of medicine for patients who received standard care only. While more research is always needed and strongly encouraged, this is a positive result.
Music therapy literature indicates that music therapy has many positive benefits for patients. The growing body of research also shows that providing music therapy as a service to one’s patients can also have a positive financial outcome for hospice and palliative care organizations.
Romo, R., & Gifford, L. (2007). A cost-benefit analysis of music therapy in a home hospice. Nursing economic$, 25(6), 353–358.
Josie McCutcheon, MT-BC, CDP
Senior Music Therapist
Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC
For more information on music therapy, visit our website at www.centralohiomusictherapy.com or the American Music Therapy Association’s website at www.musictherapy.org.