Music therapy is increasingly used in end-of-life care, with a growing number of music therapists being employed in hospices and hospital-based palliative care programs each year. Music therapy in end-of-life care aims to improve a person's quality of life by helping relieve symptoms, addressing psychological needs, offering support and comfort, facilitating communication, and meeting spiritual needs. In addition, music therapists assist family and caregivers with coping, communication, and grief/bereavement. Music therapy requires the implementation of a music intervention by a trained music therapist, the presence of a therapeutic process, and the use of personally tailored music experiences. These music experiences may include listening to live, therapist-composed, improvised, or pre-recorded music, performing music on an instrument, improvising music spontaneously using voice or instruments, composing music, and music combined with other modalities (e.g. movement, imagery, art). Results indicate that music therapy may have a beneficial effect on the quality of life of people in end-of-life care. However, the results stem from a limited number of studies and the quality of the evidence is not strong. More research is needed. No evidence of effect was found for pain or anxiety. This may be due to the fact that only two studies with very small samples examined the effects of music therapy on these outcomes. There were insufficient data to examine the effect of music therapy on other physical, psychological, or social outcomes. More research is needed.
Music therapy for end-of-life care
March 16, 2011