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Music Production Helps Young Cancer Patients Cope

Jan 27, 2014 11:47 AM EST

Cancer patients undergoing treatment gain key coping skills when they participate in music production, including writing lyrics and producing videos, according to a new study published in Cancer.

More than 100 patients from 11 to 24 years old undergoing stem cell transplant treatments were randomly selected to either be a part of a "Therapeutic Music Video" group or a control group, which received audiobooks.

During six sessions carried out during a three-week period, participants worked with a board-certified music therapist to articulate their experience through the medium of a music video, which they then shared with friends and family.

Those involved in the process reported markedly improved coping, the researchers said, with the participants reporting better social integration and family environment 100 days after stem cell transplant treatments.

"Adolescents and young adults who are resilient have the ability to rise above their illness, gain a sense of mastery and confidence in how they have dealt with their cancer, and demonstrate a desire to reach out and help others," Joan Haase, from Indiana University's School of Nursing, said in a statement.

Further investigation revealed that the patients were not the only ones to benefit. Parents, interviews showed, felt the music videos offered them a greater insight into their child's experience.

Going forward, the researchers plan on exploring the possibility of adding a parent component to the process, noting that it's important for guardians to continue discussing the themes brought up in the videos long after the project has ended.

"The availability of music therapy services from a board-certified music therapist in the United States has become more widespread, and through studies like this one, we hope to see increased availability and access to this important allied health service," said Sheri L. Robb, who also teaches nursing at Indiana University.

"One of our team's next steps is to disseminate findings, train professional music therapists on this intervention, and then conduct an implementation study to examine how the intervention may change as it moves into the standard care setting and whether, in the presence of these changes, patient benefits are maintained."

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