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Music therapy is effective in managing anxiety and emotional well-being in women undergoing cancer treatments, according to a recent study.

Breast cancer can be a stressful and anxiety-inducing experience for women, especially during diagnosis and treatment. The uncertainty surrounding the illness and the type of treatment can create high levels of emotional distress, impacting both the surgical experience and the experience of pain. However, seeking support in a caring healthcare environment can help alleviate some of the psychological burdens. Music therapy effectively improves the mental and emotional well-being of adult cancer patients in different treatment phases. A study published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer, used two types of music therapy: individual receptive therapy and individual receptive therapy. While both forms of therapy effectively reduced all evaluated variables, which included stress, depression, anger, and anxiety, individual receptive therapy led to a significant reduction in anxiety levels, and integrated therapy resulted in a greater sense of support received and the utilization of interpersonal resources.

Music Therapy Interventions

A highly qualified and experienced clinical music therapist with certification facilitated the music therapy sessions. The first group (ARM1) underwent a 60-minute individual/receptive music therapy (MTri) session that followed specific phases. The second group (ARM2) participated in a 90-minute integrated group music therapy ((MTiGrp) session  This group received a variety of active and receptive music therapy experiences.

A total of 103 participants took part in the MTiGrp intervention and 48 participated in the MTri intervention. Pre- and post-treatment scores of stress, depression, anger, and need for help were measured with the Emotion Thermometers© (ET) screening tool and State Trait Anxiety Inventory Y-1 form (STAY-Y1) were analyzed for both interventions.

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Effectiveness of Music Therapy on Anxiety and Emotional Parameters

Both individual and group music therapy showed significant reductions in stress, depression, anger, and anxiety. Although MTri showed a more significant reduction in anxiety levels, both interventions were equally effective regarding the subjective perception of the help received.

No Significant Correlation Was Found in Mtigrp

The sociodemographic categories of patients in the MTiGrp group did not differ significantly for the five individual characteristics analyzed. This means that no significant correlation was found between the difference in pre- and post-treatment scores for the STAI parameter, ET scores, or demographic and clinical characteristics considered in the study.

Age and Education Level Influenced Reduction in Depression and Anxiety

In the MTri ARM1 group, significant differences in patient categories were found only for depression and anxiety in relation to age and education. The study found that after MTri, older women experienced a more significant reduction in depression, while women with higher education levels showed a greater anxiety reduction.

Music Therapy for Anxiety Management in Cancer Patients

This study found that music therapy interventions could significantly manage anxiety and emotional well-being in women undergoing oncological treatments. Music therapy has the potential to play a significant role in contributing to the humanization of medicine and the enhancement of overall care for hospitalized patients. Healthcare providers are encouraged to consider these interventions as complementary therapies for managing anxiety and improving quality of life for cancer patients.


Lagattolla, F., Zanchi, B., Pietro, M., Cormio, C., Lorusso, V., Diotaiuti, S., Fanizzi, A., Massafra, R., Costanzo, S., Caporale, F., Rieti, E., & Romito, F. (2023). Receptive music therapy versus group music therapy with breast cancer patients hospitalized for surgery. Supportive Care in Cancer, 31(3), 162. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-023-07624-7