A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Music as Medicine


Playing music for patients in palliative care improves their well-being, study finds.

Hospice and palliative care patients who listen to live music in their rooms as part of their treatment feel better both emotionally and physically and request fewer opioid-based medications, a new study found.

At Kent Hospital and Women & Infants Hospital, doctors working with seriously ill patients offered them the option to have a flutist play music in their rooms as part of their palliative care, which focuses on improving quality of life and relieving symptoms for patients with serious illnesses.

The idea was that music might help hospice and palliative care patients contend with symptoms like pain and stress and improve their moods, according to the researchers. Studies have shown that patients who engage with visual arts, creative writing, and other expressive activities report improved emotional and psychological and well-being, the authors wrote in the study.

“The field of palliative care is very mindful of the patient as a whole person, looking out for their spiritual and emotional well-being in addition to their physical health,” says Cynthia Peng MD’20, the lead author of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

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