Effects of music therapy on anxiety: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Psychiatry Res. 2021 Oct;304:114137. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.114137. Epub 2021 Jul 25.

Abstract

This study aims to evaluate the efficacy of music therapy on anxiety from randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The following electronic databases were utilized for selecting eligible studies that were published from inception to March 2021: PubMed, Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, Medline, Web of Science, and Embase. Standard mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) values were used to evaluate the efficacy of music therapy on anxiety. Thirty-two studies with 1,924 participants were included in the meta-analysis. Music therapy lasted an average of 7.5 sessions (range, 1-24 sessions), while the average follow-up duration was 7.75 weeks (range, 1-16 weeks). Music therapy significantly reduced anxiety compared to the control group at post-intervention (SMD = -0.36, 95% CI: -0.54 to -0.17, p < 0.05), but not at follow-up (SMD = -0.23, 95% CI: -0.53 to 0.08, p >0.05). Subgroup analysis found a significantly positive effect of music therapy on anxiety in < 60 and ≥ 60 age-group (SMD = -0.31, 95% CI: -0.52 to -0.09, p < 0.05; SMD = -0.45, 95% CI: -0.85 to -0. 05, p < 0.05), developed and developing country group (SMD = -0.28, 95% CI: -0.51 to -0.06, p < 0.05; SMD = -0.49, 95% CI: -0.80 to -0.17, p < 0.05), < 12 and ≥ 12 sessions group (SMD = -0.24, 95% CI: = -0.44 to -0.03, p < 0.05; SMD = -0.59, 95% CI: -0.95 to -0.22, p < 0.05), respectively. Our study indicated that music therapy can significantly improve anxiety during treatment. But given that only eight RCTs reported the effects of music therapy at follow-up and the duration of follow-up was inconsistent, further researches are needed on the lasting effects after the intervention is discontinued.

Keywords: Anxiety; Meta-analysis; Music Therapy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Humans
  • Music Therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic