Music, Heart Rate Variability, and Symptom Clusters: A Comparative Study

S. C. Chen
M. L. Yeh
H. J. Chang
M. F. Lin


PURPOSE: This study aimed to explore the possible range of change of a single-session music intervention (SMI) on symptom clusters and neurological reactivity for women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. METHODS: A parallel and randomized, controlled study with repeated measures design was used. A total of 100 women with breast cancer were randomly assigned to the SMI or a control group. The outcome measurements of symptom cluster were collected using the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and the neurological reactivity with heart rate variability at four time points: before commencement of the intervention (T0), immediately afterward (T1), 1 week later (T2), and 3 weeks after the intervention (T3). RESULTS: Of the 50 women in each group, 46 in the SMI and 48 in the control group completed the post-test at T3. Multivariate analysis of variance indicated that the SMI group had a medium effect in change of symptom clusters compared to the control group at T2. Moreover, after adjusting for baseline between normal and higher levels of sympathetic tone activity, significant differences existed in fatigue and depression at T2 and sleep disturbance at T3. CONCLUSIONS: A single-session music intervention can be effectively used to reduce symptom clusters for women with breast cancer. Targeting those who have a higher level of sympathetic tone activity is recommended.