Music Therapy Reduces Pain in Palliative Care Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Journal of Pain and Symptom Management




CONTEXT: Treatment of pain in palliative care patients is challenging. Adjunctive methods of pain management are desirable. Music therapy offers a nonpharmacologic and safe alternative. OBJECTIVES: To determine the efficacy of a single music therapy session to reduce pain in palliative care patients. METHODS: Two hundred inpatients at University Hospitals Case Medical Center were enrolled in the study from 2009 to 2011. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: standard care alone (medical and nursing care that included scheduled analgesics) or standard care with music therapy. A clinical nurse specialist administered pre- and post-tests to assess the level of pain using a numeric rating scale as the primary outcome, and the Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability Scale and the Functional Pain Scale as secondary outcomes. The intervention incorporated music therapist-guided autogenic relaxation and live music. RESULTS: A significantly greater decrease in numeric rating scale pain scores was seen in the music therapy group (difference in means [95% CI] -1.4 [-2.0, -0.8]; P<0.0001). Mean changes in Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability scores did not differ between study groups (mean difference -0.3, [95% CI] -0.8, 0.1; P>0.05). Mean change in Functional Pain Scale scores was significantly greater in the music therapy group (difference in means -0.5 [95% CI] -0.8, 0.3; P<0.0001) [corrected]: A single music therapy intervention incorporating therapist-guided autogenic relaxation and live music was effective in lowering pain in palliative care patients.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Hospital Setting; Hospitalized Patients; Live Music Listening; Music Listening; Music Therapy; Music and Relaxation; Pain; Pain Management and Control; Pain Score or Rating; Palliative Care; Receptive Music Methods; Self-Report Measures; Terminally Ill

Indexed Terms

Combined Modality Therapy; Ohio; Pain; Pain Measurement; Palliative Care; Prevalence; Relaxation Therapy; Risk Factors; Terminal Care

Study Type

Randomized Controlled Trial; Quantitative Methods

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