Music interventions for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a systematic review and meta-analysis



Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is the most common and severe side effects brought by chemotherapeutics. The role of music interventions in relieving CINV is uncertain. The aim of this systematic review was to test the effects of music interventions on three categories of CINV.


A systematic search was conducted in Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PubMed, EMBASE, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), WanFang, and Chinese Biomedical Database (CBM) in order to capture randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the comparative efficacy of music interventions and others. Two investigators screened, sorted, and extracted the data, and appraised the risk of bias. All statistical analyses were performed using RevMan 5.3 software.


The literature search yielded 608 studies of which only ten RCTs fulfilled the eligibility criteria with 632 patients retrieved. Although the duration, the frequency of interventions, and the type of selected music varied across studies, commonly used elements included music listening. Results showed that music interventions were associated with reducing the incidence of anticipatory CINV and lowering the severity of delayed vomiting (MD = − 0.65, 95% CI = − 1.08 to − 0.23). However, strongly controversial results existed in terms of reducing the incidence of acute and delayed CINV, the severity of acute CINV, the severity of delayed nausea, and improving patients’ quality of life.


Music interventions may effectively reduce the incidence of anticipatory CINV and relieve the severity of delayed vomiting in patients with chemotherapy based on limited data. However, the conclusion should be interpreted with caution and further research is required to design with large-scale and rigorous methods.

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We thank the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association Oncologic Nursing Committee who offered great support for the development of this review.

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Correspondence to Wan-min Qiang.

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Database Search strategies Number
CINAHL S1 MJ chemotherapy
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S3 MJ nausea OR MJ vomiting
S4 SU nausea OR SU Antiemetic* OR SU Emetic* OR SU Emesis OR SU Vomiting
S5 Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting OR Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting OR CINV
S6 MJ Music OR MJ Music Therapy
S7 SU music* OR SU Music Therapy OR SU melod* OR SU sing OR SU sings OR SU singing OR SU song* OR SU improvis* OR SU compose OR SU composing ber
S8 S1 OR S2
S9 (S1 OR S2) AND (S3 OR S4)
S10 S5 OR S9
S11 S6 OR S7
S14 S10 AND S11
CENTRAL (of Cochrane library) #1 MeSH descriptor: [Drug Therapy] explode all trees
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#3 MeSH descriptor: [Vomiting] explode all trees
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#5 Nausea or Antiemetic* or Emetic* or Emesis or Vomiting
#6 Therapy, Drug or Drug Therap* or Therapies, Drug or Chemotherap* or Pharmacotherap*
#7 #1 or #4 or #6
#8 #2 or #3 or #5
#9 #7 and #8
#10 Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting or Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting or CINV
#11 #9 or #10
#12 MeSH descriptor: [Randomized Controlled Trial] explode all trees
#13 random*
#14 #12 or #13
#15 MeSH descriptor: [Music] explode all trees
#16 MeSH descriptor: [Music Therapy] explode all trees
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EMBASE #1’chemotherapy’/exp
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#6’chemotherapy induced nausea’:ti,ab,kw AND ‘vomiting’:ti,ab,kw OR (‘chemotherapy-induced nausea’:ti,ab,kw AND ‘vomiting’:ti,ab,kw) OR ‘cinv’:ti,ab,kw
#7#1 OR #4
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#11 ‘music’/exp. OR ‘music therapy’/exp
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#14’randomized controlled trial (topic)’/exp
#16 #14 OR #15
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CNKI (中国知网) #1 化疗[主题] or化学疗法[主题] or药物疗法[主题] or药物治疗[主题]
#2 干呕[主题] or恶心[主题] or呕吐[主题]
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#5 #1 and #2 and #3 and #4
WanFang MED Online (万方数据库) #1化疗[全部字段] or化学疗法[全部字段] or药物治疗[全部字段] or药物疗法[全部字段]
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#4 随机[全部字段]
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CBM (中国生物医学文献数据库) ((((“化疗”[全字段:智能]) OR “化学疗法”[全字段:智能]) OR “药物治疗”[全字段:智能]) OR “药物疗法”[全字段:智能])AND(((“恶心”[全字段:智能]) OR “干呕”[全字段:智能]) OR “呕吐”[全字段:智能])AND(((“音乐”[全字段:智能]) OR “音乐治疗”[全字段:智能]) OR “音乐疗法”[全字段:智能]) AND(“随机”[全字段:智能]) 20#

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Wei, Tt., Tian, X., Zhang, Fy. et al. Music interventions for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Support Care Cancer 28, 4031–4041 (2020).

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  • Music therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Systematic review