Effectiveness of different music interventions on managing symptoms in cancer survivors: A meta-analysis

Sameena F. Sheikh-Wu, Mary A. Kauffman, Debbie Anglade, Fajer Shamsaldeen, Soyeon Ahn, Charles A. Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: Music-based interventions can provide non-pharmacological, low-cost treatment for symptoms. This meta-analysis's purpose is to examine music-based interventions' effectiveness on psychological distress symptoms (anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms), aspects of positive psychology (benefit-finding and resilience), and quality of life (QoL). Methods: This meta-analysis was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines and meta-analytic methods suggested by Hedges and Olkin (1985). A systematic literature search between 2000 and 2020 was conducted using CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Web of Science databases. Studies and intervention characteristics were independently coded. The Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies, Cochrane Collaboration's Tool for Assessing Risk of Bias, Begg and Mazumdar's rank correlation, and Egger's regression test evaluated publication bias. Results: Twenty-nine of thirty-five eligible studies were included in the statistical analysis. The overall (g = 0.34, SE = 2.27, p < 0.05) and psychological distress symptoms sub-outcome type (g = 0.47, SE = 0.18, p < 0.05) models with moderator analyses were statistically significant. Conclusions: Culturally appropriate music-based interventions conducted in the clinical setting that used passive listening with headphones, occurring ≥ 3-times a week over ≥ 2 months, positively impacted gynecology survivors undergoing chemotherapy and surgical treatments. Specifically, interventions that were ≥ 35-minutes, listening to folk or mixed-music positively impacted psychological distress symptoms, whereas new-age music negatively impacted psychological distress symptoms, positive psychology, and QoL outcomes. Future research should examine positive psychology characteristics (perceived levels of positive adjustment, change, and coping) and include larger cohorts with various cancer populations across all cancer survivorship continuum. Culturally appropriate interventions could lead to greater adherence, compliance, and clinical effectiveness and increase the findings' significance and generalizability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101968
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Cancer survivorship
  • Music intervention
  • Oncology
  • Psychological distress
  • Psychosocial care
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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