Effects of live music during chemotherapy in lymphoma patients: a randomized, controlled, multi-center trial

Margrethe Langer Bro, Christoffer Johansen, Peter Vuust, Lisbeth Enggaard, Bodil Himmelstrup, Torben Mourits-Andersen, Peter Brown, Francesco d'Amore, Elisabeth Anne Wreford Andersen, Niels Abildgaard, Jeppe Gram

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


PURPOSE: Chemotherapy is associated with both somatic and psychological side effects. Music might ease these problems. Several randomized controlled trials have investigated the effect of music, but the results are inconclusive. We aimed to examine whether live or pre-recorded music listening decreases anxiety during chemotherapy in newly diagnosed lymphoma patients.

METHODS: A total of 143 patients with non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphomas were randomly assigned into three groups receiving either 30 min of patient-preferred live music (n = 47), 30 min of patient-preferred pre-recorded music (n = 47), or standard care (n = 49) during up to five outpatient chemotherapy sessions. The primary endpoint was anxiety measured by the Spielberger's State Anxiety Inventory. Secondary endpoints included blood pressure, pulse rate, nausea and vomiting, serum catecholamine levels pre- and post-intervention to measure arousal levels, and health-related quality of life. The Musical Ability Test was used to link musical ability to the primary endpoint.

RESULTS: When adjusting for age, sex, diagnosis, number of sessions, and baseline anxiety, the linear mixed model showed a borderline statistically significant reduction in the primary outcome anxiety in the live music group compared to standard care (7% (95% CI, - 14% to 0%, p = 0.05), while the effect of pre-recorded music was non-significant (5% (95% CI, - 12% to + 3%, p = 0.18). No intervention effects were seen in secondary outcomes.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that patient-preferred live music reduces anxiety among patients with malignant lymphomas undergoing chemotherapy. Musical ability among this group of cancer patients seems not to be a determining factor for effect of music intervention.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSupportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
Pages (from-to)3887-3896
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Music intervention
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • RCT
  • Music/psychology
  • Heart Rate/physiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents/therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Music Therapy/methods
  • Quality of Life/psychology
  • Lymphoma/drug therapy
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Blood Pressure/physiology
  • Anxiety/prevention & control
  • Aged


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