Reduction of Anxiety Through Music Therapy During Hospitalization

Being in the hospital for any length of time can be anxiety-provoking for many individuals. Not only is there a high rate of anxiety associated with hospitalization, but this anxiety can also create additional negative somatic (i.e., chest pain, palpitations, etc.) and psychological effects. Anxiety in hospitals may be treated with drugs to help alleviate symptoms, but these often offer short-term effects. 

Researchers Brown, Patton, Freilich, & Heiderscheit completed a retrospective review of medical charts, focusing on verbal anxiety ratings of adult hospital patients before and after music therapy sessions. All music therapy sessions, as is typically in the nature of music therapy, were tailored to each individual based on their needs and preferences. Music therapy interventions included and were not limited to the following:

  • Improvisation (making up the music on the spot)
    • Instrumental improvisation on small percussion instruments
  • Compositions
    • Lyric replacement (utilizing a familiar song and changing lyrics)
  • Receptive – 
    • Music listening (patient preferred music, live or recorded)
    • Lyric analysis/discussion
    • Music assisted relaxation – most frequently used in this study to reduce anxiety

A significant difference was found between verbal anxiety ratings before and after music therapy. These results suggest that music therapy can significantly reduce anxiety in hospitalized adults. This significant reduction in anxiety was shown when music therapy was tailored to the individual, based on components such as music preferences as well as physical and mental capabilities/desires of the patients. Additional research not included in this article also supports music therapy in hospitals individuating a reduction in pain and an increase in mood. Overall, music therapy can provide many benefits to hospitalized individuals. 

For more information on music therapy, visit our website at or the American Music Therapy Association’s website at

Brown, C.S., Patton, F., Freilich, J., & Heiderscheit, A. (2023). A retrospective study: Reduction of anxiety through music therapy during hospitalization. Music Therapy Perspectives.

By Camryn Horning, MT-BC