Vocal Music Therapy for Chronic Pain Management in Inner-city African Americans: A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study


Journal of Music Therapy




BACKGROUND: To date, research on music for pain management has focused primarily on listening to prerecorded music for acute pain. Research is needed on the impact of active music therapy interventions on chronic pain management. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this mixed methods research study was to determine feasibility and estimates of effect of vocal music therapy for chronic pain management. METHODS: Fifty-five inner-city adults, predominantly African Americans, with chronic pain were randomized to an 8-week vocal music therapy treatment group or waitlist control group. Consent and attrition rates, treatment compliance, and instrument appropriateness/burden were tracked. Physical functioning (pain interference and general activities), self-efficacy, emotional functioning, pain intensity, pain coping, and participant perception of change were measured at baseline, 4, 8, and 12 weeks. Focus groups were conducted at the 12-week follow-up. RESULTS: The consent rate was 77%. The attrition rate was 27% at follow-up. We established acceptability of the intervention. Large effect sizes were obtained for self-efficacy at weeks 8 and 12; a moderate effect size was found for pain interference at week 8; no improvements were found for general activities and emotional functioning. Moderate effect sizes were obtained for pain intensity and small effect sizes for coping, albeit not statistically significant. Qualitative findings suggested that the treatment resulted in enhanced self-management, motivation, empowerment, a sense of belonging, and reduced isolation. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that vocal music therapy may be effective in building essential stepping-stones for effective chronic pain management, namely enhanced self-efficacy, motivation, empowerment, and social engagement.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Chronic Pain; Coping; Emotional Functioning; Music Medicine; Pain; Pain Management and Control; Pain Score or Rating; Pain Severity; Pain Tolerance; Patient Satisfaction; Racial Disparities; Recreative Music Methods; Self-Efficacy; Self-Report Measures; Singing a Song

Indexed Terms

Adolescents; African Americans; Chronic Pain; Feasibility Studies; Focus Groups; Outcome Assessment (Health Care); Pain Management; Qualitative Research; Self Care; Self Efficacy; Surveys and Questionnaires; African Americans; Chronic pain; mixed methods research

Study Type

Mixed Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type