Listening to music and singing is good for our health!
Cancer patients undergoing treatment experience a variety of symptoms throughout therapy, that can have negative effects on their quality of life. Patients are faced not only with the physical side-effects from the disease and its treatment, but also with the psychological burden, which includes anxiety and stress. In a review of symptom prevalence in oncology patients, the most commonly experienced symptoms included fatigue (62%), worrying (54%), feeling nervous (45%), dry mouth (42%), insomnia (41%), and feeling sad/mood (39%), with 40% of patients experiencing at least one symptom. Therefore, it is important to address not only the physical needs of individuals with cancer but also to screen for psychological distress and to provide them with the support they need.
This study with the title «The effects of inpatient music therapy on self-reported symptoms at an academic cancer center: a preliminary report», examines the effects of a music therapy treatment on self-reported symptoms in patients receiving inpatient care at a comprehensive cancer center . Music therapy was available as part of an inpatient integrative oncology consultation service. Reasons for music therapy referral included anxiety/stress (67%), adjustment disorder/coping (28%), and mood elevation/depression (17%). The worst symptoms were sleep disturbance and well-being.
The study analyzed baseline characteristics and patient-reported outcomes for 96 consecutive unique patients participating in a music therapy intervention, by a board-certified music therapist, as part of an integrative oncology inpatient consultation. 55% of the patients were women, and the average age was 50. The mean time for a music therapy session was 36.9 min, with maximum of 65 min. Music therapy included passive music listening and active singing or playing music.
After one session of music therapy, it was observed clinically significant improvement across a variety of symptoms commonly experienced by cancer patients. Although the majority of referrals were for management of mood symptoms (anxiety/stress, adjustment disorder/coping, mood elevation/depression), it was observed significant improvements in both physical and psychosocial symptoms. It was observed, statistically and clinically, significant improvement for anxiety, drowsiness, depression, nausea, fatigue, pain, shortness of breath, appetite. The highest clinical response rates were observed for anxiety (92%), depression (91%), and pain (89%). In conclusion, a randomized controlled trial is justified based on the results of the above study.
 The effects of inpatient music therapy on self-reported symptoms at an academic cancer center: a preliminary report. Lopez G et al. Supportive Care in Cancer, March 1st 2019, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-019-04713-4