Can Music Alleviate Cancer Patients’ Symptoms?

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A new review published by Cochrane Library found that there is significant evidence that music interventions help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, pain, and fatigue in cancer patients, while also boosting their quality of life. Researchers looked at studies that examined the impact of music therapy (a personalized music experience provided by trained music therapists), and music medicine (listening to prerecorde4d music offered by by a doctor or nurse) on psychological and physical outcomes in people with cancer.

Researchers examined a total of 52 trials in the review that constituted 3,731 cancer participants. Twenty three of the trials were considered to be music therapy, and the remaining 29 were classified as music medicine interventions. One of the most important finding was that all kinds of music interventions resulted in a moderate to strong effect in reducing anxiety of patients. For music and pain reduction, they¬† found a large treatment benefit, and for fatigue they found a small to moderate treatment effect. They also found small reductions in heart and respiratory rates and a lower blood pressure associated with music interventions. Researchers continued “The results of single studies suggest that music listening may reduce the nee4d for anesthetics and analgesics, as well as decreased recovery time and duration of hospitalization, but more research is needed for these outcomes.” They concluded “We hope that the findings of this review will encourage health care providers in medical settings to seriously consider the use of music therapy in the psychosocial care of people with cancer.”

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