Kind of blue: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of music interventions in cancer treatment

Psycho-Oncology, Wiley, ISSN 1099-1611

Volume 27, 2, 2018

DOI:10.1002/pon.4470, Dimensions: pub.1086092296, PMID: 28626867,



  1. (1) Department of Regional Health Research, Faculty of Health Sciences University of Southern Denmark Odense Denmark
  2. (2) The Danish National Academy of Music Odense Denmark
  3. (3) Hospital of South West Jutland, grid.414576.5, Southern Denmark Region
  4. (4) Aarhus University, grid.7048.b, AU
  5. (5) Musculoskeletal Statistics Unit The Parker Institute, Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospital Copenhagen Denmark
  6. (6) University of Southern Denmark, grid.10825.3e, SDU
  7. (7) Department of Haematology Odense University Hospital Odense Denmark
  8. (8) Unit of Survivorship Danish Cancer Society Research Center Copenhagen Denmark
  9. (9) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU






OBJECTIVES: Music may be a valuable and low-cost coping strategy for cancer patients. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to identify the psychological and physical effects of music interventions in cancer treatment. METHODS: We included randomized, controlled trials with adult patients in active cancer treatment exposed to different music interventions versus control conditions. Qualitative studies and systematic reviews were excluded. We identified a total of 2624 records through 2 systematic searches (June 2015 and September 2016) in PubMed, Scopus, EMBASE, Cinahl, Web of Science, Cochrane, and PsycINFO and used Risk of Bias Assessment, GRADE and Checklist for Reporting Music-Based Interventions to evaluate the music applied and quality of the studies. We conducted meta-analyses using Review Manager (version 5.3). PROSPERO reg. no. CRD42015026024. RESULTS: We included 25 RCT's (N = 1784) of which 20 were eligible for the meta-analysis (N = 1565). Music reduced anxiety (SMD -0·80 [95% CI, -1.35 to -0.25]), pain (SMD -0.88 [95% CI -1.45 to -0.32]), and improved mood (SMD -0.55 [95% CI, -0.98 to -0.13]). However, studies were hampered by heterogeneity with I2 varying between 54% and 96%. Quality of the studies ranged from very low to low. The most effective mode of music intervention appeared to be passive listening to self-selected, recorded music in a single session design. CONCLUSIONS: Music may be a tool in reducing anxiety, pain, and improving mood among patients with cancer in active treatment. However, methodological limitations in the studies conducted so far prevent firm conclusions.


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Aarhus University

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2018: Unused

Research area: Medicine

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2018: Level 2

Research area: Medicine

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Times Cited: 15

Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 9.23

Relative Citation ratio (RCR): 2.53