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Music therapy in pediatric palliative care: family-centered care to enhance quality of life

Journal title
The American journal of hospice & palliative care
Publication year
Lindenfelser, K. J.; Hense, C.; McFerran, K.

Research into the value of music therapy in pediatric palliative care (PPC) has identified quality of life as one area of improvement for families caring for a child in the terminal stages of a life-threatening illness. This small-scale investigation collected data in a multisite, international study including Minnesota, USA, and Melbourne, Australia. An exploratory mixed method design used the qualitative data collected through interviews with parents to interpret results from the PedsQL Family Impact Module of overall parental quality of life. Parents described music therapy as resulting in physical improvements of their child by providing comfort and stimulation. They also valued the positive experiences shared by the family in music therapy sessions that were strength oriented and family centered. This highlighted the physical and communication scales within the PedsQL Family Impact Module, where minimal improvements were achieved in contrast to some strong results suggesting diminished quality of life in cognitive and daily activity domains. Despite the significant challenges faced by parents during this difficult time, parents described many positive experiences in music therapy, and the overall score for half of the parents in the study did not diminish. The value of music therapy as a service that addresses the family-centered agenda of PPC is endorsed by this study.

Research abstracts