A recent study by researchers and physicians at Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute found that patients who listened to music while undergoing chemotherapy showed significant improvements in mood and lower stress levels.
Felicity Harper, a clinical psychologist and professor of oncology at WSU’s School of Medicine, says using music to ease the stress of cancer patients is a low-risk and cost-effective way of managing patients’ psychological well-being.
“I think (music) has such a transformative power,” Harper told WDET. “The reason why I wanted to do this study is that…our research has shown obviously that music and music therapy has had an impact in a variety of diseases and chronic conditions. And in particular, in cancer patients, we have seen the benefits.”
While typically music therapy is offered through extended sessions of working one-on-one with a therapist, Harper says this study was conducted in the context of using music as “medicine.”
In the randomized clinical trial, participants were polled about their mood, stress and pain levels before and after listening to music of their own choice for an hour, compared to those who did not listen to music.
“We basically wanted to say, ‘all right, if music is going to work to help people, you know, reduce negative mood or decrease distress, is it going to have an effect if people just listen to one hour of music on one occasion?”
The group who listened to music for an hour had significantly lower stress levels, according to the study.
“I think it’s a fantastic finding,” said Harper. “And I would love for other cancer centers to be able to, you know, implement this.”
Use the media player above to listen to the full interview with Felicity Harper, clinical psychologist and professor of oncology at WSU’s School of Medicine.