Effects of Live Music Therapy on Heart Rate Variability and Self-reported Stress and Anxiety Among Hospitalized Pregnant Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Pia Teckenberg-Jansson
Siiri Turunen
Tarja Pölkki
Minna-Johanna Lauri-Haikala
Jari Lipsanen
Andreas Henelius
Ansa Aitokallio-Tallberg
Satu Pakarinen
Marianne Leinikka
Minna Huotilainen


This study aims to evaluate the effects of live music therapy on heart rate variability (HRV) and self-reported stress and anxiety among hospitalized women with high-risk pregnancies. A total of 102 women at an antenatal ward due to pregnancy-related complications participated in a randomized controlled trial. The participants were randomly assigned to a music therapy group (N = 52) or control group (N = 50). The women in the music therapy group received live music therapy on three consecutive days, for half an hour at a time. The participants belonging to the control group were instructed to rest for equally long time periods. The physiologic stress of the participants was assessed using HRV measures. The participants also rated their perceived stress and anxiety. The physiologic stress of the participants was assessed using 12 HRV measures. The SD2 measure of HRV increased significantly more in the music therapy group than in the control group during the therapy sessions. Moreover, the low frequency (LF) HRV measure decreased during the three-day therapy period. The self-reported stress was not significantly altered after the intervention. For women with high initial self-reported anxiety in both groups, their anxiety was significantly reduced during the three-day period.