Journal Article

Singing and Vocal Interventions in Palliative and Cancer Care: Music Therapists’ Perceptions of Usage

Amy Clements-Cortés

in The Journal of Music Therapy

Volume 54, issue 3, pages 336-361
Published in print November 2017 | ISSN: 0022-2917
Published online September 2017 | e-ISSN: 2053-7395 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jmt/thx010
Singing and Vocal Interventions in Palliative and Cancer Care: Music Therapists’ Perceptions of Usage

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Abstract

Background

Music therapists in palliative and cancer care settings often use singing and vocal interventions. Although benefits for these interventions are emerging, more information is needed on what type of singing interventions are being used by credentialed music therapists, and what goal areas are being addressed.

Objective

To assess music therapists’ perceptions on how they use singing and vocal interventions in palliative and cancer care environments.

Method

Eighty credentialed music therapists from Canada and the United States participated in this two-part convergent mixed-methods study that began with an online survey, followed by individual interviews with 50% (n = 40) of the survey participants.

Results

In both palliative and cancer care, singing client-preferred music and singing for relaxation were the most frequently used interventions. In palliative care, the most commonly addressed goals were to increase self-expression, improve mood, and create a feeling of togetherness between individuals receiving palliative care and their family. In cancer care, the most commonly addressed goals were to support breathing, improve mood, and support reminiscence. Seven themes emerged from therapist interviews: containing the space, connection, soothing, identity, freeing the voice within, letting go, and honoring.

Conclusions

Music therapists use singing to address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual goals of patients, and described singing interventions as accessible and effective. Further research is recommended to examine intervention efficacy and identify factors responsible that contribute to clinical benefit.

Keywords: singing; palliative care; music therapy; cancer; end-of-life care

Journal Article.  8269 words. 

Subjects: Applied Music ; Music Therapy ; Music Psychology

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