Guest post by Jennifer Bundrant
There is no doubt that music is an enormous part of our world.
You can look into many different cultures pasts, and music always has some sort of impact on it – how it affected the people and ideas that the culture produced. It has not only been used as a joyful way to pass the time, but it also has been practiced in medicine.
Ancient Greek philosophers and even Native Americans have used music to heal both the body and soul. Today, more then 70 colleges and universities have degree programs that are approved by the American Music Therapy Association. There are thousands of professional music therapists working in health care settings all around the world, conducting studies on how musical therapy affects patients suffering from different causes of anxiety.
There are many different ways to practice musical therapy, like writing songs, talking about lyrics, listening to music, and even making music. These can be practiced in hospitals, cancer centers, hospices, and homes – basically wherever is appropriate and comfortable for the patient.
Different studies have been done that analyze one group of patients with anxiety, from a specific health cause, that are treated with music therapy, and a control group, who will receive the regular procedure without the music therapy. They then compare the two groups to see if music therapy does decrease anxiety, and why.
One study done in Hunan, China at the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in 2009, was done to see how musical therapy affected women with high-risk pregnancy on bed rest. Women in the experimental group received 30 minutes of musical therapy for three consecutive days, and women in the control group received usual care and had a 30 minute rest for three consecutive days.
Their anxiety levels and physiological responses (vital signs, fetal heart rate) were monitored. At the end of the three days, both the anxiety levels and physiological responses in the music therapy showed significant signs of improvement. The researchers concluded that carefully selected music may offer an inexpensive and effective method to reduce anxiety for women with high-risk pregnancies.
Not only that, it has also shown to decrease anxiety in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In 2011 in Taiwan, a group of researchers underwent a study to determine the effect of music therapy and verbal relaxation on state anxiety and anxiety-induced physiological manifestations among patients with cancer, before and after chemotherapy.
A control group and experimental group were also used to determine the effects of the musical therapy. Heart rate, consciousness levels, and skin temperature were measured before, during, and after. The music therapy group showed reduced anxiety levels post-chemotherapy than the control group, and the high-state anxiety patients obtained the most benefit from the music therapy than any other group. Oncology nurses can offer music relaxation to enhance the quality of care.
A similar experiment was conducted in Vietnam in 2010 on patients with cancer, however this time it was with children between the ages of seven and twelve. These children were a selected group undergoing lumbar puncture. They were separated into a control group and a music therapy group where they were also interviewed after the procedure.
The researchers monitored pain scores and the secondary was heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation measured before, during, and after the procedure. Anxiety scores were measured before and after the procedure. The results showed lower pain scores and heart and respiratory rates in the music group during and after the lumbar puncture.
The anxiety scores were lower in the music group both before and after the procedure. That combined with the positive interviews from the children helped to conclude that the music therapy was a very effective method in helping children deal with the anxiety and pain that comes with having cancer.
This special type of therapy is growing and becoming more popular as more studies are being done. It has been proven over and over again how it has positively influenced people’s lives and helped them deal with very unfortunate situations. Something as simple and beautiful as music can help with extreme situations that many of us are forced to face. So, the fact that music has been a part of our world for thousands of years is, indeed, not surprising at all.