This systematic review investigated the use and efficacy of music listening as an intervention for children and adolescents in clinical and non-clinical settings. Database search was carried out via EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycARTICLES Full Text, PsycINFO, PubMed together with hand-search in related journals using an age restriction of 0-18 years and the following keywords: music (therapy) AND receptive OR passive. Only original studies that were peer-reviewed were included.
The searched publication period was between 1980 and up until March, 2015. In summary, 36 studies were identified as satisfying inclusion criteria, 28 being randomized controlled trials. One half of included studies (n = 18) focused on music listening in pediatrics, indicating a significant reduction of pain, anxiety, and distress.
One quarter of studies were set in mental health contexts (n = 9), and the remaining nine studies were varied in focus and contents, also supporting the beneficial effects of music listening for specific symptom reduction and enhancement of specific skills. Included studies varied with respect to diagnosis, sample size, design, choice and delivery of music and duration of interventions.
Results show that music listening in health care contexts is a feasible, easily applicable, and cost effective intervention for children and adolescents. As expected with such diversity, there was a marked variability in results. Careful consideration in interpreting the results and also in designing future studies is needed. Clinical and research implications are discussed further.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd
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