Music and its association with the medical field
There is a substantial amount of evidence based on the therapeutic benefits of music, some of the evidence dating back thousands of years ago. Many civilizations such as India, China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome have documented the role of music in the medical field. It was during World War I and II where the first ever clinical setting based on music therapy was conducted. The study was based on the therapeutic effect of music in soldiers to relieve pain after trauma from war-based injuries. These studies led to the foundation of music therapy in different fields of the medical world. (Skånland, S M. 2013)
There has been a substantial increase in randomized and prospective studies based on the benefits of music therapy. In the past 30 years, there has been a significant contribution from researchers in the field of music therapy and the medical field. The amount and quality of data and scientific research that has been documented over the past 30 years in the medical filed has led to the acceptance of music therapy as a level I evidence in the clinical research industry. Moreover, many reports have been evaluated stating the efficacy of music in various health disorders. The ever-growing evidence on the therapeutic benefit of music especially in relieving pain and anxiety, decreased sedative need and pharmacological analgesics have supported the hypothesis on the positive effects of music in human health. Moreover, a substantial evidence has been documented stating the benefit of music in quality of life in patients with varying health disorders. In order to provide a strong evidence on the use of music in the medical field, a thorough literature review was performed that pooled in high-quality data from peer-reviewed articles from high impact journals. Some of the sources include Pubmed, MEDLINE, and google scholar. This paper highlights the role of music in different fields of medicine such as sleep science, pain management, cognitive function, and cancer treatment. This paper also focuses on music and its relation in the medical field.
Music and sleep science
A meta-analysis and systemic review carried out by Chun-Fang Wangemail, Ying-Li Sun, and Hong-Xin Zang revealed the importance of sleep in patients with acute and chronic sleep disorders. The review was based on an extensive search of databases such as Pubmed, Cochrane library, and Embase. The studies included were mainly randomized controlled trials with adult patients. The authors identified a total of 557 patients from 10 distinct studies. Significant sleep improvement was observed in most patients in all the randomized trials. Publication bias was not observed during review or the final verdict of the meta-analysis. After complete scrutiny and review of all the studies, it was concluded that music has an important role in sleep patterns. Moreover, music helped patients with acute and chronic sleep disorders. (Chun-Fang Wangemail, et al. 2013)
Music is said to play an important role in patients with insomnia. Many reports on the positive effects of music on insomnia have been documented. One such study was conducted to evaluate the effect of music on adult patients with insomnia. This study was based on a research, evidence-based therapeutic use of music in patients with sleep disorders such as insomnia. The study was based on a randomized control design with 50 participants in total. 25 participants were exposed to music during nocturnal sleep duration (Treatment group). The other 25 patients were not exposed to music. It was observed that patients in the treatment group (exposed to music) had improved sleep quality. There was a significant improvement in REM sleep in patients exposed to music. However, no difference in sleep patterns were observed in the control group. Thus, it was concluded that music plays a therapeutic role in improving sleep in patients with insomnia. (Chang ET, et al. 2012). Young students most often face many sleep disorders such as insomnia. Researchers reported that classical music improved sleep in young students to a significant importance. Music can be considered as an alternative therapeutic modality for sleep disorders. (Harmat L et al. 2008).
Music therapy and pain
The efficacy of music in pain relive and management has not been studied in depth. Moreover, clinical studies published till date do not offer valuable information on the importance of music or music therapy in pain management. A randomized controlled study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of music therapy in children and adults with any type of pain. The study was based on a review of studies that used non-pharmacological approaches to reduce pain in children and adults. The authors reviewed various databases such as Medline, Pubmed, etc. to analyze the efficacy of music therapy in adults and children with pain. The study included 1796 controls participants and 1867 subjects who were exposed to music. Statistical analysis revealed the significant importance of music in reducing pain, stress, and anxiety among children and adults. The clinical importance of music therapy in relieving pain may not be clear but it can be concluded that music therapy would have a significant role in pain management. (Cepeda MS, et al. 2008).
In chronic pain management, music is said to play an important role in providing a therapeutic benefit. Many clinical studies and scientific literature suggest the role of music in chronic pain management. A randomized controlled, single-blind, study evaluated the efficacy of music therapy in 87 patients with chronic pain. Most of the patients included in the study suffered from neurological disorders, lumbar pain, and fibromyalgia. The study revealed that music therapy helped in reducing stress, depression, and anxiety levels in most of the patients. (Guétin S, et al. 2012) Many healthcare professionals find it difficult to treat or reduce pain in palliative care patients. A randomized control study evaluated the efficacy of music intervention in reducing pain in such patients. It was found that music had improved and reduced pain in more than 90% of patients in palliative care. Thus, it can be concluded that music therapy has a therapeutic benefit in pain management. (Gutgsell KJ. et al. 2013).
Music and cognitive function
There has been a substantial advancement in the use of music or music therapy to improve cognitive function in elderly patients or patients with impaired cognitive function. It is important to understand the use of motor and multisensory integration that is required to listen or play a musical instrument. An individual with a sound mind would most likely be able to understand and play a music instrument. However, in patients with impaired cognitive function reading, learning, or listening to music may not be as simple. Music is said to play an important role in the emotional state of an individual. Moreover, music is considered as a motivating activity that would help most patients with mental disorders. This has led to the study of music training in analyzing its importance in brain plasticity. A study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of piano learning and practice on cognitive function. The study was designed as a placebo controlled randomized trial. Patients who practiced and learned the piano had better cognitive function. Most patients were older adults (above the age of 50). Thus, it can be concluded that music learning and practice has a significant impact in improving cognitive function. (Seinfeld S, et al. 2013)
Many clinical studies have reported the efficacy of music in cognitive function and gait in elderly patients. Rhythmic music may have a therapeutic benefit in helping patients during their gait training (movement of limbs) and also cognitive function. A study on 45 healthy adults who underwent gait training with the help of a rhythmic (beat) music. Music has a psychodynamic role in humans and acts as a motivational asset in the medical field. Most of the patients who underwent gait training with the help of music intervention has significant improvement in motor and cognitive function. This led to the conclusion that music has a significant role in improving cognitive function not only in elderly (unhealthy) patients but also in healthy patients. More clinical studies on music and cognitive function would help us determine the benefit of music in improving cognitive function. (Maclean LM, et al. 2014)
Music and cancer treatment
A meta-analysis by Tsai HF et al. provided evidence that music intervention can be the next medical breakthrough for cancer patients undergoing various forms of treatment including chemotherapy. Moreover, the meta-analysis reported that music therapy or music medicine has a significant impact on the quality of life of cancer patients. Music intervention is also said to play an important role in relieving patients from pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. The study also concluded that music intervention was more effective in adults compared to children and adolescents. (Tsai HF et al. 2014).
A similar study evaluated the effects of music in cancer patients. The study was based on a randomized cross-over trial. Assessment was based on quality of life questionnaire that helped the researchers evaluate the effectiveness of music in improving the quality of life of cancer patients. The authors concluded that music therapy helped in pain management, improved cognitive function, and also quality of life of patients. Thus, it was concluded that music intervention plays an important and therapeutic role in the treatment and management of cancer patients. (Bradt J. et al. 2014).
Music has always been part of human beings and its therapeutic role has been well-documented. In the previous sections, a substantial amount of information on the use of music in different fields of medicine have been enlisted. There are many reports of music and its role in improving the quality of life of patients suffering from various health disorders. Due to the large amount of data pooled in from high quality source, it can be concluded that music has a significant role in the medical field.
Skånland, S M. Music, health, and well-being. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2013; 8: 10.
Maclean LM, Brown LJ, Astell AJ. The effect of rhythmic musical training on healthy older adults' gait and cognitive function. Gerontologist. 2014 Aug;54(4):624-33.
Seinfeld S, Figueroa H, Ortiz-Gil J, Sanchez-Vives MV. Effects of music learning and piano practice on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in older adults. Front Psychol. 2013 Nov 1;4:810.
Gutgsell KJ, Schluchter M, Margevicius S, et al. Music therapy reduces pain in palliative care patients: a randomized controlled trial. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2013 May;45(5):822-31.
Cepeda MS, Carr DB, Lau J, Alvarez H. Music for pain relief. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Apr 19;(2):CD004843.
Guétin S, Giniès P, Siou DK, et al. The effects of music intervention in the management of chronic pain: a single-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Clin J Pain. 2012 May;28(4):329-37.
Chang ET, Lai HL, Chen PW, Hsieh YM, Lee LH. The effects of music on the sleep quality of adults with chronic insomnia using evidence from polysomnographic and self-reported analysis: a randomized control trial. Int J Nurs Stud. 2012 Aug;49(8):921-30.
Harmat L, Takács J, Bódizs R. Music improves sleep quality in students. J Adv Nurs. 2008 May;62(3):327-35.
Chun-Fang Wangemail, Ying-Li Sun, Hong-Xin Zang. Music therapy improves sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders: A meta-analysis of 10 randomized studies. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 52(2): 51-52.
Tsai HF, Chen YR, Chung MH, Liao YM, Chi MJ, Chang CC, Chou KR. Effectiveness of Music Intervention in Ameliorating Cancer Patients' Anxiety, Depression, Pain, and Fatigue: A Meta-analysis. Cancer Nurs. 2014 Nov-Dec;37(6):E35-50.
Bradt J, Potvin N, Kesslick A, Shim M, Radl D, Schriver E, Gracely EJ, Komarnicky-Kocher LT. The impact of music therapy versus music medicine on psychological outcomes and pain in cancer patients: a mixed methods study. Support Care Cancer. 2014 Oct 17.