Music Therapy For Cancer Patients
January 28, 2014

Making Music Videos Helps Young Cancer Patients Cope With Treatment

Ranjini Raghunath for - Your Universe Online

Cancer treatment - through chemotherapy, radiation or stem cell therapies - can be physically and mentally exhausting for patients, especially younger ones. Many factors can help them feel positive about themselves and their treatment, including spiritual practices, supportive home environments and strong social connections with friends, family and physicians.

Now, a new study shows that making music videos and writing song lyrics may also help young cancer patients better cope with their treatment.

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Nursing, Indianapolis, carried out the music therapy intervention study, which was published online in the journal Cancer.

113 young patients aged 11-24 undergoing stem cell transplants for cancer were selected randomly for the study. Half of them were given audiobooks (the control group) and the other half were given three weeks to write down song lyrics, collect images and record music videos.

Patients in the second (test) group went through six “training” sessions each with a music therapist, who helped them identify and write about what was important to them, and guided them in creating the videos.

"It really targeted them writing, having an opportunity to write about what's important to them," co-author of the study and music therapist, Sheri Robb, told Reuters. "A lot of these kids as they're going through treatment, they tend to not talk about these things.”

The patients also had a chance to share the videos they created with family and friends. After about 100 days of treatment, patients in the test group reported that making those videos helped them better connect with their loved ones.

The intervention therapy helped the young patients feel stronger, more positive and helped improve their relationships with family and physicians, based on their responses to follow-up questionnaires, the researchers reported.

The patients’ parents also found the videos to be very helpful in understanding the experiences their children were going through during their treatment, the researchers found.

"The availability of music therapy services from a board-certified music therapist in the United States has become more widespread, and through studies like this one, we hope to see increased availability and access to this important allied health service," Robb said in a statement. "One of the challenges in healthcare today is making sure that research findings from studies such as ours are used to inform healthcare practices and service delivery.”

The research team plans to carry out further studies to test the potential benefits of including parents in the intervention, and how best to integrate such therapy into standard care for cancer patients.