The Effect of Therapeutic Music Interventions on the Behavior of Hospitalized Children in Isolation: Developing a Contextual Support Model of Music Therapy


Sheri L. Robb


Journal of Music Therapy




Examined the effect of therapeutic music interventions on the emotions and behavior of isolated, hospitalized children. Eight environmental elements were examined as 10 isolated, resident pediatric oncology patients (aged 4–11 yrs) were videotaped during unstructured play, reading taped storybooks with the therapist, or participating in developmentally appropriate music activities. Collected data included scores on the Affective Face Scale (P. A. McGrath et al, 1985). Results show that the music environment possessed a significantly higher frequency of environmental support elements than did other activities typically experienced by hospitalized children. Therapeutic music interventions elicited significantly more engaging behaviors from Ss than did other hospital activities. Environmental support elements were related to some positive behaviors but these behaviors were not consistent across environments. There were no significant differences in mood scores in all conditions, perhaps due to the possible association of rating scales with pain measurement. The implications of the contextual support model of music therapy, based on the motivational theory of coping of E. A. Skinner and J. G. Wellborn (1994), are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Behavioral State; Cancer; Children; Coping; Emotional Functioning; Hospitalized Patients; Mental Health; Mood; Music Therapy; Social Isolation

Indexed Terms

therapeutic music intervention participation vs taped storybook reading vs unstructured play; affect & behavior; 4–11 yr old isolated & hospitalized cancer patients; Case-Control Studies; Children; Child Behavior; Child, Preschool; Inpatients; Neutropenia; Patient Isolation; United States; Emotional Responses; Hospitalized Patients; Social Isolation; Behavior; Childhood Play Behavior; Neoplasms

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

Document Type