The Effect of Music Therapy on Hospitalized Psychiatric Patients

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Tso Ying Lee, PhD
nursing department, Cheng Hsin General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

Purpose: In this study, we explored the effects of music therapy on hospitalized psychiatric patients’ anxiety levels using the physiological measures of finger temperature and EEG and a psychological instrument. This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of music therapy in reducing anxiety in hospitalized psychiatric patients. Methods: The authors used a randomized clinical trial design and randomly allocated the 24 enrolled participants to the experimental or the control group. Patients in the experimental group received music therapy in a therapy room at a set time for 30 min each morning for 11 days. The authors administered the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and measured skin temperature and brain waves to determine anxiety level before, during, and after music therapy. Results: Experimental group participants had lower scores on the BAI than control participants, after the music therapy (z=-2.0, p<0.05) and at 1-week follow-up (z=-2.2, p<0.05), indicating that they were experiencing significantly less anxiety. The mean BAI anxiety score fell in the experimental group from 23.9 (SD=9.9) at baseline to 13.9 (SD=8.8), after music therapy, and 12.7. (SD=10.5) at follow-up. The experimental group demonstrated a significant elevation in the average alpha electroencephalographic (EEG) percentage (from 38.1% to 46.7%) and a reduction in the average beta EEG percentage (from 61.9% to 53.4%) after the music therapy. After adjusting for change in patient finger temperature on the first day, mean change in finger temperature did not differ significantly between the experimental and control groups. Conclusion: Our findings support the effectiveness of music therapy in facilitating relaxation. This kind of music can mitigate sympathetic nervous system reaction, resulting in decreased muscle tone and lowered sympathetic activity. Listening to music can, not only convert a person’s mood from nervous to calm, also arouse alpha waves in the brain, which are associated with relaxation. Future
studies on music therapy should consider mechanisms such as the alpha wave hypothesis and finger temperature in order to advance the understanding of music’s psychological and physiological effects.