The Expanding Scope, Inclusivity, and Integration of Music in Healthcare: Recent Developments, Research Illustration, and Future Direction

Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Jan 19;9(1):99. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9010099.


This paper is in three sections. Section One presents a historical overview of international initiatives that have expanded the role of music in healthcare, from the initial formalization of music therapy to its more research-based rehabilitation focus to recent decades that have seen an increasing role for professional and community musicians, paraprofessional music services, music-oriented service organizations, and a very large increase in medical funding for music effects. "Music Care" is a particular and comprehensive concept promoted by the Room 217 Foundation in Canada, featuring an inclusive and integrated approach to optimizing the use of music in healthcare settings. It is part of an expanding landscape of global practices and policies where music is used to address specific issues of care. Section Two is provided as an illustration of the growing scope of the concept of using music in healthcare. It reports on a multi-year project that engaged 24 long-term care homes in conducting individualized action research projects using the fundamental approach of "Music Care", empowering all caregivers, formal and informal, musicians and non-musicians, to use music to improve quality of life and care. Section Two presents only high-level results of the study focused on using music care to reduce resident isolation and loneliness. Section Three draws on the results from the study reported in Section Two to inform the potential and path to the future of music optimization in any healthcare setting.

Keywords: isolation; loneliness; long-term care; music care; music medicine; music therapy; neurologic music therapy; participatory action research; social prescription.