Art, Music, DanceCancerChildren

Benefits of music therapy in children with cancer

Researchers from no fewer than 11 centers in the US report that music therapy helps with coping-related behaviors in hospitalized children receiving cancer treatment.

First, the details.

  • 83 children, ages 4-7, were randomly assigned to one of 3 conditions.
    • Active music engagement
    • Music listening
    • Audio storybooks
  • 3 coping-related behaviors (ie, positive facial affect, active engagement, and initiation) were measured.

And, the results.

  • Active music engagement was associated with significantly higher frequency of coping-related behaviors compared to music listening and audio storybooks.
  • Positive facial affect and active music engagement were also significantly better in the group receiving active music engagement.
  • Initiation was significantly higher during active music engagement compared to audio storybooks.

The bottom line?
The real comparison here is between active vs passive engagement of the children in a structured activity.

In another successful study discussed on the American Cancer Society website, children had live, interactive music therapy brought to them by a trained music therapist.

Older children and teens were drawn in by camp songs, singing, songwriting, listening to pre-recorded music of their choice, and improvising with the instruments. Infants and children who did not feel well enough to participate were often helped to sleep or comforted by lullabies.

2/22/08 20:28 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.