In a study conducted by the University of Iowa’s College of Nursing (1998), students wanted to test the effects of music therapy. Music therapy would mean that the students used music in a way of healing rather than a form of entertainment. The idea was to better understand music’s effects on relaxation and anxiety. Does using music in such a way benefit a person in need of healing? In this study the test was conducted on patients receiving assistance from a ventilator. A test such as this could be conducted on nearly any person in just about any situation, medically related or not.
Two groups were tested in the study. The participating groups were one control group, to whom no music was played, and one testing group, to whom music was played. The patients were randomized as well as the locations giving the study more reliability, making it more valid. Anxiety, heart rate, and respiratory rate were the elements being measured throughout the study. Music was either played, or not played over a time period of thirty minutes and the measurements previously mentioned were to be recorded.
The result of this study was simple. The study was beneficial to the patients exposed to the music. For those exposed to music, anxiety was significantly lowered throughout the process. As a whole, the music group patient’s heart and respiratory rates decreased over time as well. Based off this study alone, on cannot say that music therapy is beneficial to all people. However, this study is proof that for these patients, silence was doing more harm than good.
In a similar study, Wallace J. Hamel (2001) discusses almost identical results in comparison to the study conducted by the University of Iowa’s College of Nursing and supports its findings. Hamel also references Iowa’s research in his journal. It’s interesting that Hamel uses the term “music intervention” instead of music therapy. However, they both have the same effect. Hamel wanted to “determine the effect of music intervention on anxiety, heart rate, and arterial blood pressure in patients waiting for cardiac catheterization” (Hamel, 2001).
Again, the two studies are very similar. The purpose is almost identical, the procedure is nearly the same, and the results both have the same end conclusion. The biggest difference between the two studies would be the “subjects” being tested. Hamel’s research proved that alternative therapies can be beneficial. Particularly, the study proves that music can decrease anxiety. Also, this study goes one step further, in saying that music positively effects the “physiological values caused by stress (Hamel, 2001).”
Chlan, L. (1998). Effectiveness of a music therapy intervention on relaxation and anxiety for patients receiving ventilatory assistance. Heart & Lung: The Journal of Acute and Critical Care, 27(3), 169–176. doi:10.1016/S0147-9563(98)90004-8
Hamel, W. J. (2001). The effects of music intervention on anxiety in the patient waiting for cardiac catheterization. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, 17(5), 279–285. doi:10.1054/iccn.2001.1594
Kathi J. Kemper’s article on music therapy discusses the benefits of music therapy on patients. Throughout the article, “Music as Therapy,” she makes some very good points and her findings are very informational. Her study does not limit her to only one or two beneficial characteristics of music therapy; she widens her search to a variety of helpful elements.
“Music is widely used to enhance well-being, reduce stress, and distract patients from unpleasant symptoms. Although there are wide variations in individual preferences, music appears to exert direct physiologic effects through the autonomic nervous system. It also has indirect effects by modifying caregiver behavior. Music effectively reduces anxiety and improves mood for medical and surgical patients, for patients in intensive care units and patients undergoing procedures, and