An Investigation Comparing the Effectiveness of a Live Music Therapy Session and Recorded Music in Reducing Anxiety for Patients With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Motor Neurone Disease

Anne Horne-Thompson BMus, MMus, RMT
Karen Bolger BMus, RMT


The aim of this research project was to compare the effectiveness of a live music therapy session, recorded music, and silence, in reducing anxiety for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) / motor neurone disease (MND). Twenty-one participants with ALS/MND were recruited from an inpatient hospice service. The study implemented a repeated measures design, with participants acting as their own controls. Participants experienced each of the three conditions mentioned above, over a period of one week. A pretest-posttest design was used and participants completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) (Zigmond & Snaith, 1983) and Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) (Bruera, Kuehn, Miller, Selmser & Macmillan, 1991) immediately before and after the intervention. Heart rate and oxygen saturation levels were also measured pre and post. Results of the study were not significant in either the music therapy or recorded music groups. The majority of participants (81%) reported little or no anxiety prior to the interventions, and therefore, little change was noted in any of the groups. Limitations of the study included patients' not experiencing significant anxiety, study design and difficulty with recruitment and attrition rates. The authors recommend further studies to determine the need for anxiety management and also surveying patients as to their needs.