Music Therapy as an Adjunct to Standard Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Co-morbid Anxiety and Depression: A Randomized Clinical Trial


Journal of Affective Disorders




BACKGROUND: Previous studies have highlighted the potential therapeutic benefits of music therapy as an adjunct to standard care, in a variety of psychiatric ailments including mood and anxiety disorders. However, the role of music in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have not been investigated to date. METHODS: In a single-center, parallel-group, randomized clinical trial (NCT02314195) 30 patients with OCD were randomly assigned to standard treatment (pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavior therapy) plus 12 sessions of individual music therapy (n = 15) or standard treatment only (n = 15) for one month. Maudsley Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Beck Depression Inventory-Short Form were administered baseline and after one month. RESULTS: Thirty patients completed the study. Music therapy resulted in a greater decrease in total obsessive score (post-intervention score: music therapy+standard treatment: 12.4 ± 1.9 vs standard treatment only: 15.1 ± 1.7, p < 0.001, effect size = 56.7%). For subtypes, significant between-group differences were identified for checking (p = 0.004), and slowness (p = 0.019), but not for washing or responsibility. Music therapy was significantly more effective in reducing anxiety (post-intervention score: music therapy + standard treatment: 16.9 ± 7.4 vs standard treatment only: 22.9 ± 4.6, p < 0.001, effect size = 47.0%), and depressive symptoms (post-intervention score: music therapy + standard treatment: 10.8 ± 3.8 vs standard treatment: 17.1 ± 3.7, p < 0.001, effect size = 47.0%). LIMITATIONS: Inclusion of a small sample size, lack of blinding due to the nature of the intervention, short duration of follow-up. CONCLUSION: In patients with OCD, music therapy, as an adjunct to standard care, seems to be effective in reducing obsessions, as well as co-morbid anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Anxiety; Anxiety Scales; Depression; Mental Health; Mood Scales; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Psychological Outcomes; Recorded Music Listening; Self-Report Measures

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Anxiety; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Comorbidity; Depression; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Psychiatric Status Rating Scales; Anxiety disorders; Combined modality therapy; Obsessive compulsive disorder; Randomized clinical trial

Study Type

Quantitative Methods; Randomized Controlled Trial

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