, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 2609-2624,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 30 May 2013

Music-based interventions in palliative cancer care: a review of quantitative studies and neurobiological literature

Abstract

Purpose

This study aimed to review quantitative literature pertaining to studies of music-based interventions in palliative cancer care and to review the neurobiological literature that may bare relevance to the findings from these studies.

Methods

A narrative review was performed, with particular emphasis on RCTs, meta-analyses, and systematic reviews. The Cochrane Library, Ovid, PubMed, CINAHL Plus, PsycINFO, and ProQuest were searched for the subject headings music, music therapy, cancer, oncology, palliative care, pain, anxiety, depression, mood, quality of life, prevalence, neuroscience, functional imaging, endogenous opioids, GABA, 5HT, dopamine, and permutations of these same search terms. Data for the review were comprised of articles published between 1970 and 2012. References of all the cited articles were also reviewed.

Results

Available evidence suggests that music-based interventions may have a positive impact on pain, anxiety, mood disturbance, and quality of life in cancer patients. Advances in neurobiology may provide insight into the potential mechanisms by which music impacts these outcomes.

Conclusions

More research is needed to determine what subpopulation of cancer patients is most likely to respond to music-based interventions, what interventions are most effective for individual outcomes, and what measurement parameters best gauge their effectiveness.