Effects of Music Therapy on Quality of Life in Adults with Sickle Cell Disease (MUSIQOLS): A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study

J Pain Res. 2022 Jan 11:15:71-91. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S337390. eCollection 2022.


Purpose: To investigate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a 6-session music therapy protocol on self-efficacy, quality of life, and coping skills in adults with sickle cell disease (SCD).

Patients and methods: Using a mixed-methods intervention design, adults with SCD (ages 21-57; mean age 32.33) were randomized (1:1) to either 1) a 6-session music therapy (MT) intervention (n = 12) or 2) waitlist control (WLC) (n = 12) using stratified randomization where factors were age in years (≤30 vs >30), and sex (male, female). All participants completed two weeks of daily electronic pain diary entries and self-efficacy, quality of life, and coping skills measures before and after their assigned study condition to explore preliminary efficacy. MT participants were taught music exercises accessed via smartphone and subsequently interviewed to determine feasibility and acceptability.

Results: The enrollment rate was 89%. All study measures were completed, with high rates of electronic pain diary completion at baseline (70%) and 2-week follow-up (66%). Interviews revealed two overall themes related to MT participants' experience: 1) participants learned new self-management skills and 2) MT improved participants' ability to cope with pain. MT participants demonstrated 100% attendance. In preliminary analyses, MT participants demonstrated significant improvements (means ± SD) in self-efficacy (5.42 ± 5.43, p = 0.008, d = 1.20), PROMIS sleep disturbance (-1.49 ± 6.68, p = 0.023, d = -0.99), PROMIS pain interference (-2.10 ± 4.68, p = 0.016, d = -1.06), and ASCQ-Me social functioning impact scores (2.97 ± 6.91, p = 0.018, d = 1.05) compared to WLC participants.

Conclusion: Preliminary findings support the feasibility and acceptability of music therapy for home use in adults with SCD. While music therapy may assist adults with SCD in improving self-efficacy and quality of life, subsequent, fully-powered clinical research is needed to determine its efficacy.

Keywords: chronic pain; integrative health; quality of life; self-efficacy.