Nursing and Patient Outcome: Music in Therapy


Nowadays, many complementary interventions exist in nursing, and one of them is music therapy (MT) (Chlan 91). With the introduction of new technologies, music has become easily accessible, which makes this intervention more applicable, easier to set, and quite economical (Chlan 94; Crowley 17; Good 308).

Music therapy

Music can be defined as “the art of arranging sounds in time to provide a continuous, unified and evocative composition” (Chlan 91). MT means literally “the use of music to improve physiological and psychological health and well-being” (Good 306). The beneficial effect of music has been recognized throughout the history of humanity, and Renaissance physicians were the first to study it (Good 307). Florence Nightingale supported the idea that music can improve the healing process (Chlan 91).

Nowadays, the theoretical foundation of MT includes the experience of a successful application and evidence-based studies of this particular intervention (Chlan 93-95; Crowley 15-17). For example, group drumming was proved to “reduce posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms” by providing an outlet for negative emotions and promoting relaxation due to the activation of limbic brain region (Chlan 95)

MT is supposed to be provided by a specifically trained registered healthcare professional (Crowley 16). However, a healthcare team member, who had not been trained to use music for therapeutic purposes, may also suggest carrying out a music intervention, even though it is not MT proper (Good 306). Also, the patient may be involved in playing the music or singing, and group treatments with MT are also a possibility. There are also limits and precautions, which include hypersensitivity and hearing ability of the patient or, for example, the requirement for controlling the volume of the music (Chlan 97).

Music is capable of stimulating (if the vibrations are rapid) or promoting relaxation (due to a regular rhythm that entrains with the body rhythms), decreasing anxiety and stress or pain (by becoming a distractive stimulus), combating nausea, improving sleep and mood, bringing pleasure, motivating the patient, helping him or her to socialize, and generally enhancing his or her quality of life (Chlan 99; Good 307).

The particular patient outcomes of MT depend on several factors, including the music and other specifics of the intervention, the expectations of the patient, and the settings (Good 306). The intervention specifics depend on the purpose; for instance, relaxing music is supposed to have a slow tempo (below a resting heart rate that is 80 beats per minute) and should be listened to for no less than 20 minutes (Chlan 94). Also, the music is typically regarded as either stimulative or sedative, and the healthcare professional is expected to choose the type that is more suitable for his or her purpose. The purpose is defined by the needs of the patient (Good 308).

However, it does not mean that a particular music type and intervention is guaranteed to have a positive effect on anyone; rather, it is up to the patient to tell which kind of MT helps him or her the most (Good 306). This therapy must be patient-centered and customized although the general guidelines and especially precautions need to be adhered to as well (Crowley 17).


To sum up, MT and music interventions are capable of improving the quality of life of patients to a great extent, which is why this topic has caught my attention. I shall research it to a greater extent in the future to make sure that I do not overlook the restrictions and limitations, and I will encourage my patients and people around me to use the therapeutic properties of music.

Works Cited

Chlan, Linda. “Music Intervention.” Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Nursing. Ed. Mariah Snyder and Ruth Lindquist. New York: Springer, 2010. 91-105. Print.

Crowley, Jessica. “Music Therapy”. Nursing Critical Care 8.2 (2013): 15-17. Web.

Good, Marion. “Music Therapy.” Encyclopedia of Nursing Research. Ed. Joyce Fitzpatrick and Meredith Wallace Kazer. New York: Springer, 2012. 306-308. Print.