New study finds effective pain relief for sickle cell patients through engaging music therapy sessions
“Our results support the value that music therapists contribute to our patients’ overall pain management and experience of care," said Jane Little, MD, University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.
Newswise — CLEVELAND — A new study published in the Journal of Music Therapy reveals promising findings for the application of improvisational music therapy in assuaging the multidimensional acute pain of adult patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). This study, conducted by University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network’s music therapist Samuel Rodgers-Melnick, MT-BC, investigated the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a single-session electronic music improvisation to diminish pain intensity and improve pain relief and mood in adults with SCD.
“Sickle cell pain is complex, affecting patients physically, emotionally, and socially,” said Jane Little, MD, Director of the Adult SCD Clinic at UH Seidman Cancer Center. “Our results support the value that music therapists contribute to our patients’ overall pain management and experience of care, just as they reinforce patient education and coping strategies. We find that patients typically respond better to a varied strategy, rather than medications alone.
“We are very enthusiastic about music therapy, and its promise for improving the lives of people who have sickle cell disease.”
In the randomized controlled trial, patients with SCD being treated in UH Seidman Cancer Center’s Acute Care Clinic were assigned to one of three 20-minute conditions: a session with a music therapist, an iPod to listen to pre-selected music themselves, or no music at all. While passively listening to music improved mood, music therapy had a significantly stronger impact on aiding in pain management for patients actively engaged with a music therapist. Rodgers-Melnick created the music therapy interventions in patients’ preferred genres: rhythm and blues, gospel, soul, hip-hop and jazz.
“When you are socially and cognitively engaged in music therapy, it has a greater effect on your mood and the way you experience pain,” said Rodgers-Melnick. “Music almost works like pain medication when people are engaged in the experience.”
In this inherited anemia that renders the red blood cells stickier and more fragile, sickle cell patients experience bouts of sudden, severe pain compounding chronic pain. Rodgers-Melnick compares it to a traffic jam in the body, spiking unpredictable and intense pain. Dr. Little indicated that this disease can result in significant damage to organs, blood vessels and nerves over time.
“We want to use music therapy to improve pain management across the board, not just to manage acute crises,” said Rodgers-Melnick. “There are many possibilities for this approach.”
In a previous study, Rodgers-Melnick developed the BEATS (Build/Educate/Advance/Transition in SCD) program to provide educational tools through music to empower sickle cell patients. UH Seidman Cancer Center established a Bridge Clinic, complete with lively BEATS music therapy session, to guide SCD patients from adolescence to adulthood.
About University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center
UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the National Cancer Institutedesignated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University, is dedicated to clinical research in the fight against cancer through ongoing studies aimed at cancer treatment and prevention. Patient care is coordinated by a team of the center’s expert physicians, who consistently push forward groundbreaking technology and models of care that set the standard across the country. The teams at UH Seidman Cancer Center practice in a collaborative setting where they coordinate an individualized treatment plan through the best use of surgery,radiation and chemotherapy. Our new drug developments in early phase clinical trials give patients access to the latest discoveries in treating cancer. Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top hospitals for cancer care in the country, the mission of UH Seidman Cancer Center is simple: to cure cancer. For more information, go to www.UHhospitals.org/Cancer.
About University Hospitals Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 40 outpatient health centers and 200 physician offices in 15 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located on a 35-acre campus in Cleveland’s University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 employees.
UH’s vision is “Advancing the science of health and the art of compassion,” and its mission: “To Heal. To Teach. To Discover.” Follow UH on Facebook @UniversityHospitals and Twitter @UHhospitals. For more information, go to www.UHhospitals.org.