The Use of Music in Chronic Illness: Evidence and Arguments

Maria Pothoulaki, Raymond MacDonald and Paul Flowers

in Music, Health, and Wellbeing

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199586974
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738357 | DOI:
The Use of Music in Chronic Illness: Evidence and Arguments

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This chapter presents a review of the current literature addressing the therapeutic use of music among those affected by: chronic illness, cancer, and cardiac disease. It includes a systematic analysis of each of these areas, highlighting music listening (both music therapy and other types of music listening) as the most prevalent type of music activity reported. Results suggest beneficial effects of music listening upon a range of physiological (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, enzyme production, respiration) and psychological variables (e.g., anxiety, mood, relaxation, pain). Theoretical integration and synthesis is then explored, with three mechanisms presented as possible explanations for the positive effects of music listening: musical communication as a form of social support; emotional engagement with music; and increased levels of perceived control.

Keywords: music therapy; music listening; cancer; heart disease; musical communication; emotional engagement; perceived control

Chapter.  8931 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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