The effects of music therapy in patients with high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell support: A randomized pilot study

A cancer diagnosis and the treatment that goes with it, can be distressing for patients and families. Often the Patients experiencing intense chemotherapy often experience psychological distress, which can lead to decreased quality of life, disturbance of mood, anxiety, and depression. Tuinmann, et al decided to look into the effects of music therapy on these symptoms.

This study recruited potential patients over a period of four years from March of 2008 until June of 2012. After exclusions, consent, and dropout, 53 participants ended up in the study. All patients over the age of 18 who were undergoing high dose chemotherapy for malignancies were considered eligible. Participants were either assigned to the intervention group (the music therapy group) or the control group (standard treatment). The music therapist provided session two times a week for at least 20 minutes and were adapted to meet the individual needs of each patient on that day. Patients either received active music intervention (playing instruments and singing) or receptive music intervention (listening to music).

The researchers specifically chose to look at quality of life, anxiety, depression, and blood samples of the participants. Quality of life scores in both the control and intervention group declined over the study, but emotional functioning improved for both groups with greater improvement in the intervention group. Perception of pain was significantly improved in the intervention group as opposed to the control group. Depression scores increased in both groups and the anxiety scores decreased, but did not have significant enough of a difference to make an official determination of effectiveness. Blood samples did not show any significant improvement or decline in the control or intervention group.

This study shows, because of the control and intervention group comparisons, that music therapy may have a significant effect on pain perception in chemo patients. The study called for larger sample sizes of participants in order to take a closer look at the emotional functioning, anxiety, and depression scores in order to achieve significance. For more information about music therapy, please continue to and

By Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC

Tuinmann, G., Preissler, P., Bohmer, H., Suling, A., & Bokemeyer, C. (2017). The effects of music therapy in patients with high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell support: A randomized pilot study. Psycho-Oncology,26, 377-384. doi:DOI:10.1002/pon.4142