Music to Your Fears

Cancer patients comforted by music

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." Bob Marley knew that to be true. And so do researchers who are finding that music soothes cancer patients on many levels.

Whether it's just relaxing and listening to music or having structured music therapy, the sounds and notes and melodies help relieve pain, lessen anxiety and improve mood in cancer patients. Drexel University researchers have confirmed this.

"Listen to some music and enjoy the relief."

Researchers, led by  Dr. Joke Bradt, an associate professor in Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, analyzed how music affected 1,891 patients who took part in 30 trials.
In 13 of the trials,  trained music therapists were involved, while the rest centered around patients listening to pre-recorded music. The frequency and length of time patients interacted with music varied greatly among the trials.
Researchers found that patients benefitted in a number of ways:
  • Music reduced anxiety considerably
  • Sessions of music therapy may improve patients’ quality of life.
  • Mood and pain were improved with the help of music
  • Smaller improvements were seen in heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure

Bradt, a board-certified music therapist with expertise in medical music therapy, said the studies didn't indicate whether music therapy or just listening to music provided better results.

Nonetheless, the studies did prove that music interventions can be positive complementary therapy for people living with cancer, Bradt said.

This research is published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 12, 2011
Last Updated:
August 12, 2011