Music Therapy Intervention to Reduce Caregiver Distress at End of Life: A Feasibility Study



      Music therapy (MT) can relieve distressing end-of-life symptoms, but little is known regarding its effect on caregivers who are at risk for emotional distress as their loved ones approach death.


      To determine the feasibility of providing MT to caregivers of hospitalized hospice patients and assess its impact on their well-being.


      Twenty caregivers of patients in general inpatient hospice were enrolled. The intervention consisted of a single MT session for 20-45 minutes.  Caregivers were assessed for quality of life (Linear Analogue Self-Assessment), depressive and anxiety symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire for Depression and Anxiety), and stress (Role Overload Measure) pre-MT, post-MT and at 6-month follow-up, as well as a satisfaction survey post-MT.


      There were 15/20 (75%) completers of MT intervention, of whom 14 also completed pre-MT and post-MT assessments, and 9 completed assessments at all 3 timepoints. Post-MT satisfaction survey (n=14) showed 100% of caregivers were very satisfied with MT and would recommend to others, and found MT very effective for emotional support (85.7%), stress relief (78.6%), spiritual support (71.4%), general feeling of wellness (71.4%), relaxation (69.2%), and pain relief (33.3%).


      Research on MT is feasible for caregivers of inpatient hospice patients. Almost all who completed MT also completed surveys pre- and post-MT. A number of caregivers also completed the survey at 6-months post-MT. Satisfaction with the MT was very high and caregivers reported benefits from participation.  Future larger studies should be conducted to better assess the impact of MT on caregivers.

      Trial Registration Identifier: NCT03322228


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