Randomized Trial of a Group Music and Imagery Method of Women with Fibromyalgia

Chronic pain can have a significant impact on the quality of one’s life and it can be hard to find effective and safe ways to manage pain.  In “Randomized Trial of a Group Music and Imagery Method of Women with Fibromyalgia” Torres, Pedersen, and Perez-Fernandez researched if Guided Imagery and Music (or GIM, a form of music therapy) could help alleviate the pain for women with Fibromyalgia.

Treating chronic pain with medication alone is not the most effective way to manage pain. Because chronic pain is so complex, treatment that addresses the physical pain as well as the behavioral, cognitive, and emotional processes is usually the most effective. In this study, fifty-six women (ages 35-65) were randomly divided into the GIM treatment group or the control group (which received whatever was their usual care plan with their Fibromyalgia group).

The study was conducted over a 12 week period and those in the GIM treatment group received two sessions per week. Each GIM group was made up of about 5-8 people and measures were taken prior to the study beginning, after the study was finished, and three months after treatment. The control group was able to try three free sessions of GIM after the entire study was completed if they were interested in the treatment.

The GIM procedures included verbal dialogue (to check in with the group for any changes and their current energy states), Relaxation and Induction (leading the participants in deep breathing to music and into guided relaxation with a themed focus), Active Music Listening (the therapist selecting a piece of music and the participants listen to the music to allow the imagery to unfold in an unguided manner), Creative Drawing (participates drawing a Mandala to reflect on their imagery), and Verbal Reflection (discussion with participants regarding their most significant imagery/experience and connecting their experiences with the theme).

This study found that there was a statistically significant increase for the GIM treatment group in subjective (the participant’s viewpoint) psychological well-being and a statistically significant reduction in the impact of Fibromyalgia on functional capacity and health. There was also a statistically significant reduction in the GIM treatment group of intensity of pain perception, anxiety, and depression. However, there was less of an effect after the three month follow up, which supports past studies that show less of a longer term benefit when the music therapy treatment is not maintained.

This study is important because it presents evidence to support GIM as a potentially effective a non-pharmaceutical treatment intervention for Fibromyalgia patients.  GIM music therapy could be an effective way to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life for patients with chronic pain. For more information on music therapy, please continued to centralohiomusictherapy.com or www.musictherapy.org.

By Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC

Torres, E., Pedersen, I. N., & Perez-Fernandez, J. I. (2018). Randomized Trial of a Group Music and Imagery Method (GrpMI) for Women with Fibromyalgia. Journal of Music Therapy,55(2), 186-220.