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Listening to music can be beneficial for cancer patients as it leaves a positive impact not just psychologically but physically as well by alleviating symptoms of anxiety, pain, fatigue and boosting quality of life, a new study has suggested.
Published by the journal Cochrane Library, the study examined the impact of music therapy (a personalised music experience offered by trained music therapists) and music medicine (listening to pre-recorded music provided by a doctor or nurse) on psychological and physical outcomes in people with cancer.
"We found that music therapy interventions specifically help improve patients' quality of life. These are important findings as these outcomes play an important role in patients' overall well-being," said Joke Bradt, Associate Professor at the Drexel University, at Philadelphia in the US.
A total of 52 trials were examined in the review, constituting of 3,731 participants with cancer where 23 of the trials were categorised as music therapy and the remaining 29 were classified as music medicine interventions.
Overall, one of the most impactful findings was that music interventions of all kinds resulted in a moderate-to-strong effect in reducing patients' anxiety. There was a large treatment benefit for pain reduction while for fatigue, a small-to-moderate treatment effect was noted.
Small reductions in heart and respiratory rates, as well as lowered blood pressure, were also linked to music interventions.
"The results of single studies suggest that music listening may reduce the need for anaesthetics and analgesics, as well as decreased recovery time and duration of hospitalisation, but more research is needed for these outcomes," Bradt added.
When comparing music therapy to music medicine, the team saw a moderate increase in patients' quality of life when music therapy was applied however, there was not a similar effect in the case of music medicine interventions.
"Both music medicine and music therapy interventions play an important role in cancer care but we didn't quite know yet which interventions may be best suited for which type of outcome," Bradt said.
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