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Utilization of Music Therapy in Palliative and Hospice Care: An Integrative Review

Bowers, Teresa A. MS, RN, FNP; Wetsel, Margaret A. PhD, RN, CS

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: June 2014 - Volume 16 - Issue 4 - p 231–239
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000060
Feature Articles

The purpose of this integrative review was to discuss the utilization and effectiveness of music therapy as an adjunct therapy in symptom management for adult patients in palliative care and/or hospice. This review sought to extend empirical knowledge for the use of music as a therapeutic modality by determining which symptoms are most commonly treated with music interventions and how efficacious treatments are. Guided by the Roy Adaptation Model, music is a positive stimulus to improve coping for patients at end of life. An extensive search using CINAHL and the keywords music therapy, hospice, and symptom management was performed for the period of 2006 to 2013. Inclusion criteria were English language, peer reviewed, adult, and use of music as a therapy for symptom management. Exclusion criteria were articles related to program development/evaluation, pediatrics, mechanical injury symptoms, and nonresearch. Seventeen articles were selected for this review. Anxiety and pain were found to be the most commonly addressed symptoms by music therapy, and the interventions decreased the intensity of these symptoms. Limitations included nonrandom sampling and small sample sizes in 6 studies. Most of these studies were of moderate levels of evidence. Implications for advanced practice nurse practice, education, and research are addressed.

Teresa A. Bowers, MS, RN, FNP, is with School of Nursing, Clemson University, South Carolina.

Margaret A. Wetsel, PhD, RN, CS, is associate professor, School of Nursing, Clemson University, South Carolina.

Address correspondence to Teresa A. Bowers, MS, RN, FNP, School of Nursing, Clemson University, 528 Owl Nest Rd, Landrum, SC 29356 (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2014 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.