Does Music Therapy Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients? A Systematic Literature Review.

Moir, Victoria (2008) Does Music Therapy Reduce Anxiety and Depression in Cancer Patients? A Systematic Literature Review. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)] (Unpublished)

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One in three people in England will develop cancer, and one in four will die from it. Providing support for patients experiencing distress is a key component of the role of nurses involved in cancer care. Interest in the potential benefits of complementary therapies in cancer care has grown and is continuing to grow. However, NHS spending is focused on interventions which are both effective and cost-effective, in line with NICE guidance. There is, therefore, a need for up-to-date systematic reviews to establish whether there is evidence to support the use of music therapy for the treatment of anxiety and depression, as a complement or an alternative to pharmacological or other psychological therapies, in this patient group.


To assess the effect of music therapy in cancer patients undergoing treatments and procedures.

Search Strategy

Electronic databases searched: AMED (1985-10/2007); CENTRAL (10/2007); CINAHL (1982-10/2007); EMBASE (1980-10/2007); MEDLINE (R) (1950-10/2007); PsycINFO (1806-10/2007); the metaRegister of Controlled Trials (11/2007). References of trials identified were searched. Music therapy journals in English were hand-searched.

Selection Criteria

Randomised controlled trials of patients (adult and children) with a confirmed cancer diagnosis undergoing active treatment or procedures. Outcomes investigated: anxiety; depression; quality of life; adverse events.

Data Collection & Analysis

One author independently carried out study selection and assessment of methodological quality.

Main Results

5 studies were identified. The combined results of the studies under review were inconclusive: two showed some improvement, two showed no significant improvement, and one showed an initial improvement which declined over the course of the study.

Reviewer's Conclusions

There has been to date very little good-quality, large-scale research in the literature on the effectiveness of music therapy in the oncology setting from which generalisations may be made. Therefore, more rigorous, large-scale research is needed to further evaluate its possible benefits.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Keywords: MNursSci, Master of Nursing Science, Systematic Literature Review, Cancer, Music Therapy, Depression
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2008
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2018 18:29

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