The effects of interactive music therapy on hospitalized children with cancer: a pilot study

Psychooncology. Sep-Oct 2002;11(5):379-88. doi: 10.1002/pon.589.


Background: The use of music therapy with children in health settings has been documented, but its effectiveness has not yet been well established. This pilot study is a preliminary exploration of the effectiveness of interactive music therapy in reducing anxiety and increasing the comfort of hospitalized children with cancer.

Methods: Pre- and post-music therapy measures were obtained from children (N = 65) and parents. The measures consisted of children's ratings of mood using schematic faces, parental ratings of the child's play performance, and satisfaction questionnaires completed by parents, children and staff.

Results: There was a significant improvement in children's ratings of their feelings from pre- to post-music therapy. Parents perceived an improved play performance after music therapy in pre-schoolers and adolescents but not in school-aged children. Qualitative analyses of children's and parents' comments suggested a positive impact of music therapy on the child's well-being.

Conclusions: These preliminary findings are encouraging and suggest beneficial effects of interactive music therapy with hospitalized pediatric hematology/oncology patients. In future studies replicating these findings should be conducted in a randomized control trial.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Leukemia / psychology
  • Leukemia / therapy
  • Lymphoma / psychology
  • Lymphoma / therapy
  • Male
  • Music Therapy*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Pain Measurement
  • Sick Role*
  • Treatment Outcome