[Music therapy for chronic headaches. Evaluation of music therapeutic groups for patients suffering from chronic headaches]

Schmerz. 2001 Apr;15(2):116-25. doi: 10.1007/s004820170035.
[Article in German]


Problem: This paper presents a new approach to music therapeutic treatments. We developed a short time treatment ( 8 group sessions) for patients suffering from chronic headaches. The multimodal concept of this headache treatment and particularly the effect of a sound trance on headache patients are explained and evaluated in this paper.

Methods: An evaluation study was done with 34 patients, who belonged to four therapy groups. In order to evaluate this treatment the patients were interviewed and had to fill out several self-rating scales about pain and some psychological variables (e. g. depression) before, directly after and 6-12 months after the treatment. This treatment group (n=26) was compared to a small waiting group (n=9). A case study elucidated the psycho-social anamnesis, and the process and outcome of the music therapy.

Results: The case study shows that the sound trance caused a loss of the affect control or at least reduced it. This experience enabled the patients to develop creative solutions, which resulted in a pain relief 6-12 month later. The comparison of the statistic means directly before and after the treatment did not reveal many therapeutic effects. Yet, 6-12 months later many patients reported less days at which they suffered from headaches; and they also significantly improved their ability of pain control.

Conclusion: The results indicate that music therapy groups are more successful than a waiting group. The study's results agree with numerous other psychological evaluation studies and shows once more that music therapists working with patients suffering from chronic headaches are able to achieve successful results particularly long-dated. Thus, creative therapeutic approaches supplement the medical treatment, as they help the patients to develop an adaptive way of coping their pain. Yet, it will need further research to confirm the benefit of music therapy for patients suffering from chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Depression / classification
  • Female
  • Headache / psychology
  • Headache / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music Therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Reference Values