Music and Cancer Pain Management

W. Igawa-Silva
S. Wu
R. Harrigan


PROBLEM: When coupled with the often debilitating side-effects of pharmacological interventions, chronic cancer pain may elicit feelings of anxiety and depression and therefore adversely affect patient well-being and quality of life. PURPOSE: This review article is a systematic assessment of the published literature related to music and cancer pain management. METHOD: A comprehensive systematic evaluation of the data based literature was undertaken and analyzed using matrix analysis. RESULTS: As an adjunctive form of pain management, music therapy has been shown to address some of these hardships by providing patients with an alternative effective means by which to reduce their subjective experiences of pain. Studies investigating the efficacy of music therapy during invasive cancer procedures and chemotherapy demonstrated the role that attention states play in distracting patients from, and therefore minimizing their experience of, the pain associated with such treatments. Other studies examining diverse outpatient populations revealed similar findings, illustrating well the cognitive-affective dimensions of pain perception. Although these findings fail to adequately address the ambiguity surrounding music therapy's role in cancer pain management, music therapy has nonetheless been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and, in so doing, indirectly lessen the intensity of pain while improving patient quality of life.