A Controlled Trial Investigating the Effect of Music Therapy During an Acute Psychotic Episode

K. Morgan
R. Bartrop
J. Telfer
C. Tennant


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of music therapy, as an adjunct to pharmacological therapy during an acute psychotic episode. METHOD: Sixty participants were quasi-randomised into either a treatment or control group. Standardised psychological assessments [Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), Calgary Interview Guide for Depression, Nurses' Observation Scale for Inpatient Evaluation (NOSIE-30) and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS21)] were conducted before and after the sessions to determine whether there were any significant changes in outcomes. RESULTS: Statistically significant changes in BPRS scores were seen in the treatment group (n = 25) compared with the control group (n = 24). No significant differences were seen in the results of the Calgary, NOSIE-30 or DASS21 scores. Despite the treatment group, having a 9.3% decrease in their length of stay in hospital as opposed to the control group, this did not reach statistical significance. No significant differences were found when comparing the two groups in their doses of antipsychotic, benzodiazepine, mood stabilising or antidepressant medication or at the 1-month follow-up assessment. CONCLUSION: Most of the variables tested in our study but one did not point at any advances of adding music therapy to pharmacological treatment. The finding of improvement in Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale could be an indicator of music therapy as a useful adjunct to pharmacotherapy during an in-patient hospital stay for the few patients amongst those suffering acute psychosis that accept to participate in music therapy.