- Patients who have undergone bone-marrow transplants report
less pain and nausea if they take part in music therapy, according to US
- The therapy may also actually speed up the time it takes
for the new marrow to start producing blood cells, say the scientists from
the University of Rochester Medical Center.
- The team looked at 42 patients, aged between 5 and 65,
who were being treated for various types of cancer, including leukaemias,
lymphomas and solid tumours. Half the patients received music therapy after
their transplants and the rest received standard follow-up care.
- The music patients met twice a week and could listen
to music of their choice, play instruments themselves, write songs or simply
talk about music they liked. During the sessions the patients were also
encouraged to visualise a peaceful or joyful setting.
- The study revealed that patients who took part in the
music therapy sessions reported significantly less pain and nausea. Before
the sessions, they rated their pain and nausea as 'severe', but after the
sessions only 'moderate'.
- In addition, the new bone marrow was slower to take hold
in patients who did not have music sessions Ð an average of 15.5 days
compared to 13.5 days. The speed with which the patients begin producing
their own white blood cells is crucial because they are vulnerable to infection.
- Music is already used in some medical settings, such
as mental health services and hospices for terminally ill patients, to
decrease patients' perceptions of pain and depression, and boost feelings
- However, it is not commonly used with bone marrow patients
and initially staff members turned the therapists away saying the patients
were too ill.
- Researcher Dr OJ Sahler said, "It's taken a while
for staff members to recognise that music therapy can be very helpful to
people when they feel most distressed.
- "Nurses and doctors originally thought that the
patient had to be playing or singing along, but passive listening or simply
the presence of the therapist providing music itself can be therapeutic,"
- Her colleague Dr Bryan Hunter, an associate professor
of music, added, "When a programme like this is first introduced,
typically we get mixed reactions. Some in the healthcare field are sceptical
- "But when they see the positive effects on patients,
they usually change their mind," he said.
- The pilot study will appear later this year in the journal
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine
- © HMG Worldwide 2003