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  • Author: Elaine Ottenlips x
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Crystal Weaver, Mark Varvares, Elaine Ottenlips, Kara Christopher and Andrew Dwiggins

Background: Music therapy began in the United States after World War II when community musicians went to veterans’ hospitals to provide live music to those experiencing post-war trauma. Music therapy programs continue to utilize community musicians who provide live music to patients in treatment centers to supplement formal music therapy sessions by credentialed professionals. Little evidence has been gathered regarding the potential ability of these live music performances to decrease the anxiety levels of oncology patients during chemotherapy treatments. Purpose: To determine if listening to live music performed by community musicians decreases oncology patient anxiety levels during chemotherapy treatments in an outpatient infusion center. Method: This quasi-experimental study involved an experimental group who listened to live music by community musicians and a control group who did not listen to live music during a single chemotherapy treatment for 30 minutes. Pre- and post-test measures of blood pressure, pulse, respiration per minute, and responses to the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (ie, common measures of anxiety) were collected by a registered nurse on all participants. The sample included 60 participants (30 control and 30 experimental). Demographic information for the participants was: (1) 60% were male and 40% were female; (2) 73% were Caucasian and 27% were African American; (3) the mean age was 62 years; and (4) 100% had a cancer diagnosis. Results: Independent sample t-test was conducted to determine if there were differences in the amount of change for dependent variables. Significance was set at P<.05. Results revealed a significantly higher score difference in the experimental group when compared to the control group for pulse, respiration per minute, and systolic blood pressure (Table 1). Conclusion: Listening to live music by community musicians can decrease oncology patient anxiety levels during chemotherapy treatments as evidenced by significant decreases in pulse, respiration per minute, and systolic blood pressure. Additional studies may examine if greater decreases in anxiety levels are achieved by the implementation of formal music therapy sessions by credentialed professionals.