Cancer Patients Cope Better With Music Therapy

cancerA new study shows that young cancer patients can cope better with their disease through music therapy. During the sessions, the patients create music videos as a way to express their feelings instead of through traditional counseling methods.

Cancer is a difficult subject for young adults and teenagers. They are often going through feelings and experiences that their peers are not, which makes it difficult for friends to understand. Joan Haase, one of the Indiana University School of Nursing researchers said that patients deal with many issues. They need a way to express those issues and their feelings.

Some of the feelings that patients deal with are nausea and mouth sores, along with weakness due to the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Some patients are in hospital for a few hours but others are there for weeks.

The researchers found that those who expressed their feelings through videos felt they were more supported, and could cope with their disease in positive ways.

Most of the patients in the study had either lymphoma or leukemia and were being treated through stem cell infusions using intravenous methods. 113 patients volunteered and were aged between 11 and 24 years.

During the study, the patients would meet with music therapists twice a week, on average, during their hospital visits. Half of the patients were asked to listen to audio books and the other half would create music, which included writing the lyrics and selecting the art for the videos. The music video therapy proved to help cancer patients cope with their symptoms better.

The whole idea behind the different tasks was to perform specific ones during their treatments. When patients were at their weakest, they would perform the less strenuous activities, but could get on with the more energetic ones once they felt better. Writing the lyrics also gave the patients the chance to express their feelings, instead of bottling them up.

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, musical therapy is used for various ages, and for different types of problems. The main idea is to build a relationship between the patient and the client. Patients used instruments and their voices to express and explore their feelings. It can help with behavioral problems, eating disorders and stress management. It can also help those who are on the autism spectrum and those with learning disabilities.

The most recent study, which was published in the American Cancer Society peer-reviewed journal Cancer, showed patients felt they were supported better during this difficult time. This led to a better family environment and, in turn, the patients felt more optimistic about their disease and the symptoms experienced during treatments.

Brad Zebrack was positive about the research; he has previously studied adolescent cancer survivors. He told Reuters that it is the fallout from the disease that is the worst. Patients could feel isolated, since they cannot be with their friends. During the teenage and young adult years, social interaction is important. The music therapy helps improves that, making it easier for cancer patients to cope better with the disease.

By Alexandria Ingham


Medical Xpress
British Association for Musical Therapy

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