Biomarkers of Stress in Music Interventions: A Systematic Review

M. M. Wong
T. Tahir
M. M. Wong
A. Baron
R. Finnerty


Psychological stress is a significant public health concern as it is associated with various comorbidities and long-term health implications. Music interventions are emerging therapies for alleviating psychological stress and improving one's physical and mental well-being. We conducted a systematic literature review in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement guidelines for reporting to identify all neuroendocrine biomarkers used to evaluate psychological stress in randomized control trials involving music interventions. We identified 18 unique biomarkers of stress from 14 full-text randomized controlled trials studies. Only one of the 14 music studies included a music therapy intervention. The most frequently used biomarkers across the studies were plasma cortisol, salivary cortisol, and salivary ?-amylase. Of the 14 studies, 12 included in this review assessed at least one of these three biomarkers. Of these 12 studies, five papers reported p-values for changes in both stress biomarkers and psychological stress outcome measures. Four of the five studies found significant p-values for the reduction of both stress biomarkers and psychological stress in music intervention groups. The variety of stress biomarkers used and the variance in study protocols makes it difficult to assess the magnitude of effect of music interventions on psychological stress. However, our findings suggest that music interventions have the potential for reducing both stress biomarker levels and psychological stress in acute stress situations.