, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 507-513
Date: 22 Sep 2007

Music imagery for adults with acute leukemia in protective environments: a feasibility study

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Patients receiving intensive chemotherapy can experience increased distressed related to both the cancer diagnosis and treatment isolation. If not addressed, distress can lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility and possible benefits of a music imagery intervention for patients hospitalized in a protective environment for the treatment of acute leukemia or high-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Materials and methods

Adults receiving intensive myelosuppressive chemotherapy in a protective environment were randomized to standard care or standard care plus music imagery. The music imagery sessions occurred twice weekly for up to eight sessions. Patients were encouraged to use the music imagery daily.


The principal criteria of feasibility were rate of consent, rate of completion of scheduled sessions, and rate of questionnaire completion. Forty-nine out of 78 patients consented, a 63% consent rate. Seventy-two percent of all scheduled music imagery sessions were completed. The rate of questionnaire completion was 60% with missing data because of illness severity and early discharge. The principal outcomes of benefit (e.g., efficacy) were positive and negative affects, fatigue, and anxiety. Both groups improved over time on all outcomes (all p < 0.001). However, a subgroup of individuals with low baseline negative affect who received the intervention reported significantly less anxiety at discharge than individuals with low baseline negative affect who did not receive the intervention.


Music imagery is feasible for adults with acute leukemia in protected environments. Patients with lower initial distress may benefit from a music imagery program in terms of reduced anxiety at discharge.