Treatment of pain in palliative care patients is challenging. Adjunctive methods of pain management are desirable. Music therapy offers a nonpharmacologic and safe alternative. To determine the efficacy of a single music therapy session to reduce pain in palliative care patients. Two hundred inpatients at University Hospitals Case Medical Center were enrolled in the study from 2009 to 2011. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups: standard care alone (medical and nursing care that included scheduled analgesics) or standard care with music therapy. A clinical nurse specialist administered pre- and post-tests to assess the level of pain using a Numeric Rating Scale as the primary outcome, and the Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability Scale and the Functional Pain Scale as secondary outcomes. The intervention incorporated music therapist-guided autogenic relaxation and live music. A significantly greater decrease in Numeric Rating Scale pain scores was seen in the music therapy group (difference in means [95% CI] -1.4 [-2.0, -0.8]; P<0.0001). Mean changes in Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability scores did not differ between study groups (mean difference -0.3, [95% CI] -0.8, 0.1; P>0.05). Mean change in Functional Pain Scale scores was significantly greater in the music therapy group (difference in means -0.5 ([95% CI] -0.8, 0.3; P<0.0001). A single music therapy intervention incorporating therapist-guided autogenic relaxation and live music was effective in lowering pain in palliative care patients.
J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Sep 24. pii: S0885-3924(12)00330-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2012.05.008. Gutgsell KJ, Schluchter M, Margevicius S, Degolia PA, McLaughlin B, Harris M, Mecklenburg J, Wiencek C. University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Electronic address: email@example.com.