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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2 (2005), Issue 2, Pages 173-178
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecam/neh076
Review

Music Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care: a Review of the Empirical Data

Music Department, State University of New York at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY, USA

Received 30 September 2004; Accepted 23 February 2005

Copyright © 2005 Russell E. Hilliard. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Although music therapy is an established allied health profession and is used with increasing frequency in the treatment of those with a terminal illness, there is a real dearth of empirical research literature supporting the use of music therapy in end-of-life care. This article reviews the empirical studies found in the literature and documents the emergence of an evidenced-based approach to the use of music therapy in hospice and palliative care. A total of 11 studies are reviewed; of these, six show significant differences supporting the use of music therapy in this area. Dependent variables positively affected by music therapy include pain, physical comfort, fatigue and energy, anxiety and relaxation, time and duration of treatment, mood, spirituality and quality of life. Guidelines for future research are considered, and variables that need to be controlled are presented. The need to create an evidence-based approach to hospice and palliative care music therapy is articulated, and future researchers are empowered to continue to conduct investigations among this population.