Music Calms Anxiety, Boosts Mood for Cancer Patients

The field of incorporating music into medicine has grown over the past two decades, and according to recent study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, listening to music reduced anxiety and pain in cancer patients and helped improve their mood and quality of life, and music therapy has now been linked to decreasing anxiety and distress of patients on mechanical ventilators; decreasing anxiety of heart disease patients; decreasing tension during chemotherapy or radiation; improving mood and quality of life; and improving immune system functioning.

For the current study, a team of music therapists led by Joke Bradt, PhD, of the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University in Philadelphia, performed a literature review of 30 trials with a total of 1,891 cancer patients who underwent music therapy interventions as part of their treatment.

The researchers reviewed 17 trials that involved a medical professional merely playing pre-recorded music for the patient, which is referred to as “music medicine,” and 13 trials that involved “music therapy” in which trained music therapists actively engaged the patient in a personally-tailored music and therapy experience, which may have included listening to live music or playing an instrument.

They found that both music interventions appeared to be more effective at reducing anxiety than no music or white noise or nature sounds delivered through headphones.