Use of preferred music to reduce emotional distress and symptom activity during radiation therapy

Michael Clark, Gloria Isaacks-Downton, Nancy Wells, Sheryl Redlin-Frazier, Carol Eck, Joseph T. Hepworth, Bapsi Chakravarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Music therapy has decreased anxiety levels in many medical settings. This randomized clinical trial examined the effectiveness of a music listening intervention, delivered by a board-certified music therapist, in patients undergoing curative radiation therapy (RT). Emotional distress (anxiety, depression, and treatment-related distress) and symptoms (fatigue and pain) were measured at baseline, mid-treatment, and end of treatment in 63 patients undergoing RT. Although patients who listened to self-selected music reported lower anxiety and treatment-related distress, there was a decline in these outcomes for patients in both groups over the course of RT. Depression, fatigue, and pain were not appreciably affected by music therapy. Within the music group, there was a significant correlation between number of times music was used/week and the change in treatment-related distress, suggesting that higher doses of music produced greater declines in distress. While these findings provided some support for the use of music in reducing distress during RT, further research demonstrating clear differences between intervention and control conditions is needed. Physical symptoms were not affected by the use of music over the course of RT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-265
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Music Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Music


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of preferred music to reduce emotional distress and symptom activity during radiation therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this