Patients who receive music therapy during their hospitalization are more likely to report a better experience, according to a study by Lake Health.

The study also found that music therapy decreased patients’ perception of pain contributing to an enhanced health-related quality of life.

“Clinical studies have demonstrated music is powerful medicine; however, little was previously known about the effects of music therapy on patient satisfaction. We now have evidence that music therapy can enhance quality of care thereby increasing patients’ satisfaction with a hospital,” said Susan E. Mandel, Ph.D., MT-BC, a board-certified music therapist who served as the study’s principal investigator.

The two-year randomized study included 200 patients between the ages of 30 and 89 years who were hospitalized at Lake Health’s West Medical Center and TriPoint Medical Center. 

Patients who participated in music therapy received 15-30 minute music therapy sessions provided by a board-certified music therapist in their hospital rooms.

They also received at least one of the following interventions based on each patient’s specific needs: music assisted relaxation, therapeutic listening, musical diversion, drawing to music, improvisation, lyric analysis, memory sharing/reminiscence, song requests, songwriting, therapeutic singing and/or verbal processing.

Additionally, participants received a complimentary copy of a music-assisted relaxation and imagery (MARI) CD for inpatient and home listening. MARI, a music therapy intervention, uses cued relaxation techniques and verbally guided imagery combined with sedative music to facilitate the relaxation response.

The music therapy study measured satisfaction among both groups of patients — those who participated in music therapy and those who did not — with questions selected from the HCAHPS Hospital Survey: the overall rating of the hospital and the likelihood a patient would recommend the hospital to others. 

While there was no statistically significant difference between groups with respect to the overall rating of the hospital during the patient’s stay, patients who received music therapy indicated they were more likely to recommend the hospital to others.

Study participants were also asked to rate their overall health, such as bodily pain, social and physical functioning and mental health.

The study found that patients who received music therapy during their hospitalization reported a decreased perception of pain and an improved health-related quality of life.

“Hospitals are increasingly seeking innovative ways to satisfy their patients and improve patient outcomes,” Mandel said.

“Based on this study’s findings, integrating music therapy with inpatient medical care may enable a health system to surpass expectations of care and improve the likelihood that patients will recommend the hospital to others,” she said.

Lake Health has used music to promote healing since establishing a music therapy program more than 25 years ago as part of the health system’s outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program. 

With the opening of TriPoint Medical Center in 2009, Lake Health expanded evidenced-based healing programs, like music therapy, system wide.

Earlier this year the health system began offering music therapy to patients in the emergency department to ease anxiety, stress and pain.

“Music therapy is a valuable component of the care we provide our patients,” said Cynthia Moore-Hardy, FACHE, president and CEO of Lake Health.

“We recognize the important connection between mind, body and spirit, and we’re committed to providing our patients with integrative therapies, like music therapy, to enhance healing and wellness,” she said.

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