Sample Nursing Paper on Music Therapy in Cancer Patients

Research on music and its effect on people has revealed that music indeed has a positive effect on mood, prevent depression, lower stress levels, and improve blood flow. Research on the effect of music on patients has additionally revealed the positive effect of music on patients’ quality of life, mood, and behavior (Innes et al., 2016). On the other hand, the progression of cancer brings with it a lot of pain for the patient. Along with the pain are feelings of fear, anxiety, and sadness, as well as physiological and psychological wasting (Krishnaswamy & Nair, 2016). While advances in medicine have contributed immensely to the management of cancer pain, a holistic approach can go a long way in providing an integrated approach in the management of the condition. Music provides this approach as this paper will discuss.

Studies into the effect of music show that it has a positive effect on mood, in addition to its ability to fend off depression. According to Innes et al. (2016) in their study of the effect of music on mood, they discovered that music selectively activates neurochemical systems and brain structures relating to positive mood, memory, and emotional regulation, all of which boost positive changes. Music not only had a beneficial effect on mood while wadding off stress-related measures but also aided in sleep.

Given the positive effect of music on patients and healthy people, it is only natural, therefore, to want to extend such effects of music to cancer patients. Due to the invasive nature of cancer, which leads to psychological and physiological deterioration, as well as impaired quality of life, studies have looked to music as alternative care (Krishnaswamy & Nair, 2016). Of relevance in choosing music as alternative care is its therapeutic effects in reduction of pain and anxiety, pointing to it as an alternative care addition, along with pharmacological measures.

In their study of much music and its effect as therapy on cancer patients, Krishnaswamy & Nair (2016) discovered that music instigated a substantial reduction in patient pain score, particularly those already on morphine. The study further shows that while music therapy had little to no effect on patients’ anxiety levels, it significantly reduced patients’ cancer pains (Krishnaswamy & Nair, 2016). Music therapy’s effect on the cancer patients also extended to mood, facial expression, and verbalization, all of which improved after the therapy.

In an article on the benefits of music therapy to cancer patients, Stanczyk (2011) informs that music therapy in cancer care concentrates on the physiological and psychological exigencies that arise from the disease. Additionally, the purpose of the therapy further extends to the side-effects that arise from cancer treatment. According to Stanczyk (2011), music therapy helps in relieving symptoms associated with cancer including pain and anxiety, as well as the effects of chemo and radiation therapy.

Stanczyk (2011) further informs of active and receptive categories of music therapy. In active therapy, patients interact with music, through which they describe their experiences, while in receptive music therapy patients simply listen to the music. Both active and receptive music therapy interventions have been instrumental in cancer patients’ treatment, particularly in helping them get through the discomfiture that comes with chemo and radiation therapies by taking their minds off the discomforts. Moreover, music therapy, particularly active music, is instrumental in improving patient communication and self-expression—both of which are important in improving patient mood, reducing depression, and anxiety.




Innes, K., E. et al. (2016). Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 52(4), 1277-1298

Krishnaswamy, P. & Nair, S. (2016). Effect of Music Therapy on Pain and Anxiety Levels of Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study. Indian Journal of Palliative Care, 22(3), 307-311. Retrieved from

Stanczyk, M., M. (2011). Music Therapy in supportive cancer care. Reports on Practical Oncology and Radiotherapy, 16(5), 170-172. Retrieved from