Kind of blue - a systematic review and meta-analysis of music intervention in cancer treatment

Margrethe Langer Bro, Kira Vibe Jespersen, Julie Bolvig Hansen, Peter Vuust, Niels Abildgaard, Jeppe Gram, Christoffer Johansen

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


Objectives: Music may be a valuable and low-cost coping strategy for cancer patients. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to identify the psychological and physical effects of music interventions in cancer treatment. Methods: We included randomized, controlled trials with adult patients in active cancer treatment exposed to different music interventions versus control conditions. Qualitative studies and systematic reviews were excluded. We identified a total of 2624 records through 2 systematic searches (June 2015 and September 2016) in PubMed, Scopus, EMBASE, Cinahl, Web of Science, Cochrane, and PsycINFO and used Risk of Bias Assessment, GRADE and Checklist for Reporting Music-Based Interventions to evaluate the music applied and quality of the studies. We conducted meta-analyses using Review Manager (version 5.3). PROSPERO reg. no. CRD42015026024. Results: We included 25 RCT's (N = 1784) of which 20 were eligible for the meta-analysis (N = 1565). Music reduced anxiety (SMD −0·80 [95% CI, −1.35 to −0.25]), pain (SMD −0.88 [95% CI −1.45 to −0.32]), and improved mood (SMD −0.55 [95% CI, −0.98 to −0.13]). However, studies were hampered by heterogeneity with I 2 varying between 54% and 96%. Quality of the studies ranged from very low to low. The most effective mode of music intervention appeared to be passive listening to self-selected, recorded music in a single session design. Conclusions: Music may be a tool in reducing anxiety, pain, and improving mood among patients with cancer in active treatment. However, methodological limitations in the studies conducted so far prevent firm conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386–400
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


  • RCT
  • cancer
  • meta-analysis
  • music
  • music intervention
  • neoplasms
  • oncology
  • systematic review


Dive into the research topics of 'Kind of blue - a systematic review and meta-analysis of music intervention in cancer treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this