How music may promote healthy behaviour

Scand J Public Health. 2011 Mar;39(2):113-20. doi: 10.1177/1403494810393555. Epub 2011 Jan 21.


Introduction: Using music to promote healthy behaviour may enhance coping mechanisms in spite of illness.

Aims: 1) To explore the role and significance of music and musicking in the life of men and women with long-term illnesses in or through different life phases, situations, events, issues and contexts. 2) To increase knowledge on how participants, through exposure to and exchange of new musical materials and practices, may learn to use music as a ''technology of self '' in relation to health promotion and rehabilitation.

Methods: This exploratory study sought to instigate narratives about music's role in supporting health through a pragmatic synthesis of elements of action-research, ethnography and grounded theory. Music CDs were conceived as an interactive and dialectical tool. This longitudinal study involved eight in-depth ethnographic interviews per participant, involving nine men and 13 women, aged between 35 and 65 with long-term illnesses.

Results: Music is a motivational device for moving our bodies, releasing anger or aggression and even transcending pain. Personal preferences in music seemed to be important for these participants while exercising, substantiated in the importance of well-being and pleasure in everyday activities and situations.

Conclusions: This study has contributed to an increase in self-awareness and consciousness, well-being and health for the majority of the participants in the study. It has brought to the level of consciousness forms of ''expert'' practice that may otherwise have occurred tacitly. Implementation of future health promotion and rehabilitation programmes ought to strengthen their focus on musical, cultural and physical activity both at an individual level and within local communities.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Chronic Disease / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Motor Activity
  • Music Therapy*
  • Music*
  • Narration
  • Self Care
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires