This study aims at determining the effectiveness of music therapy in a hospice setting. We employed the salivary cortisol level, which is widely used to measure stress level, as an objective and physical indicator and the Mood Inventory, which measures mood change, as the subjective and psychological indicators. Though many preceding studies have demonstrated that listening to music lowers cortisol levels and reduces stress, no study seems to have included hospice patients. This study measured, with the consent of 10 hospice inpatients, their salivary cortisol levels. Individual interviews, according to the Mood Inventory, were conducted before and after a small-group session. Since all the participants had terminal cancer, the 40-minute live session of songs of seasons and the participants' requests was given in a mostly passive manner considering their physical strength. Results showed significant lowering of salivary cortisol levels after the therapy session. As for the parameters of mood, refreshment was significantly increased. Though fatigue remained unchanged, anxiety and depression decreased while the score for excitement tended to increase. Thus, it was indicated that music therapy in a hospice setting reduces the stress level of patients and thereby plays a positive role in improving patients' quality of life.
J Music Ther. 2009 Summer;46(2):160-72. Nakayama H, Kikuta F, Takeda H. Sapporo Otani College.