Abstracts, Research, and Literature Reviews

Here you will find some resources and information on Music Therapy and Palliative Care:

Controlled study: Music Thanatology: Prescriptive Harp Music as Palliative Care for the Dying, Lindsay Freeman, University of Utah, 2004. 65 patients were administered a 25-95 minute intervention of prescriptive harp music.
Conclusion: Patients were more likely to experience decreased lives of agitation and decreased levels of wakefulness (the patient was in a more restful state), while also being able to breathe more slowly and with less effort. A qualitative study of music therapy in hospice care showed that patients had a decreased perception of pain after exposure to a music intervention (Starr, 1999). Music, as auditory stimulation, plays a part in controlling pain (Doyle).

“…a remarkable attribute of music is its ability to influence the heart and the brain on a physiological and psychological level simultaneously. (Doyle 2004). Rhythmic pulse and musical sound waves affect pulse and brain functions (Clynes, 1982). It is this exact combination of effects that breaks through anxiety, irrationality, and intangible and inexplicable resistance to medication and other medical measures (Boisvert, 1984).”

Controlled study: The Effect of Live Harp Music on the Anxiety of Hospitalized Cancer Patients, United Hospital Research. A two-group randomized controlled design…[sixtyone] subjects were recruited on the oncology inpatient unit. Study aimed to 1) determine if live harp playing reduced patient state of anxiety level and 2) study physiological measure of heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate which are all measures of anxiety and relaxation.
Conclusion: 48.4% of the intervention group decreased their anxiety after [live harp music] while only 30.8% in the control group decreased their anxiety following [a] 30 minute rest session [with no music]. For subjects in the intervention group, there was a significant decrease in respiratory rate immediately following the intervention. (An average of a decrease of 2.35 respirations after therapy when compared to the same time measure in the control group). Blood pressure was not decreased with music or rest/control. Subjects experiencing harp therapy were more apt to decrease their heart rate four hours after therapy than subjects in the rest/control group

Abstract Titles:

  1. Spirituality, Psychotherapy and Music in Palliative Cancer Care: Research Projects in Psycho-oncology at an Oncology Center in Switzerland. (Renz M, 2005)
  2. The Impact of a Live Music Intervention on Patients’ Experience of Pain, Anxiety, and Muscle Tension. (Holist Nurs Pract, 2010)
  3. The Effects of Music Therapy own the Quality and Length of Life of People Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer. (Florida State U, Beg Bend Hospice, 2003)
  4. Music therapy with Imminently Dying Hospice Patients and Their Families: Facilitating Release Near the Time of Death. (Am J Hosp Palliat Care, Krout, 2003)
  5. Music Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care. (Elsevier, Meganne K. Masko, PhD, MT-BC/L, 2018)
  6. Music Therapy Reduces Pain in Palliative Care Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. (JPSM, 2013)
  7. Music Therapy in Oncology and Palliative Care: International Perspectives and Current Trends in Research and Clinical Practice. (CBMT Conference, certified board of music therapy, 2015)
  8. Restoring the Spirit at the End of Life: Music as an Intervention for Oncology Nurses. (Clin J Oncol Nur, 2002)
  9. The Use of Music Therapy in Meeting the Multidimensional Needs of Hospice Patients and Families. (J Palliat Care, 2001)
  10. The Effects of Single-Session Music Therapy Interventions on the Observed and Self-reported Levels of Pain Control, Physical Comfort, and Relaxation of Hospice Patients. (Am J Hosp Palliat Care, 2001)
  11. Effects of Music on Heart Rate. (Miami U, 2005)
  12. Medicinal Music: Music Therapy in End of Life Care. (W Carolina U, 2017)
  13. Observable and Measurable Effects Pre- and Post- Live Therapeutic Music Sessions at Patient’s Bedside. (U Georgia, 2013)
  14. Relief of Suffering at End of Life, (Deakin University Report)


  1. Doctors Now Prescribing Music Therapy for Heart Ailments, Brain Dysfunction, Learning Disabilities, Depression, PTSD, Alzheimers, Childhood Development and More, Didge Project director AJ Block and Gracy Liura, March 10, 2016
  2. My Deathbed Playlist (and Yours), Mark Vanhoenacker, Nov. 5, 2016.
  3. Music for the Dying, Jennifer Hollis, June 27, 2016.
  4. Providing the Soundtrack for Life’s Last Moments, Jennifer Hollis, Aug. 1, 2015.
  5. Songs of Transition, Jennifer Hollis. December 30, 2015.


  1. Music- Thanatology with Michael Sasnow
  2. Bridging Life and Death Through Music, The Zone Series, Peter Roberts
  3. Presentation on Music and Healing, Tammi Briggs
  4. Healing Harpist – NJN/State of the Arts, Alix Weisz