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Music therapy improves psychological well-being, quality of life of terminally ill patients


Researchers from Ewha Woman’s University in South Korea investigated the positive effects of music therapy, especially in relieving pain and improving the quality of life of terminally ill patients. The results of their study were published in the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies.

  • Patients with a terminal illness who are receiving hospice care tend to suffer from high psychological and emotional distress as well as physical pain. This greatly impacts their quality of life.
  • According to previous studies, music therapy can reduce pain and improve the quality of life of these patients.
  • For this study, the researchers enrolled three female patients with terminal cancer. These patients participated in a structured singing program, which included breathing, humming, toning, listening to songs, and singing.
  • To examine the patients’ psychological well-being, the researchers recorded and qualitatively analyzed their vocal and verbal responses. These included three subcategories of psychological well-being: autonomy, self-acceptance, and positive relationship.
  • The researchers reported that participating in a singing program resulted in positive changes in the patients’ vocal and verbal responses. It also increased their psychological well-being.
  • Singing, in particular, gave the participants an opportunity to build a positive self-image, interact with a therapist, and develop autonomy in musical and non-musical behavior.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that a structured singing program designed to meet the individual needs of patients with serious conditions can help improve their psychological well-being while they receive hospice care.

Journal Reference:

Oh JE, Chong HJ, Kim AJ. CASE STUDIES OF A STRUCTURED SINGING EXPERIENCE FOR THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING OF HOSPICE PATIENTS. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 01 April 2019;25(2):85–94. DOI: 10.1089/act.2019.29211.jeo



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