For citation purposes: Nightingale CL, Cranley NM, Kacel EL, Wong SS, Pereira DB, Carnaby G. Music interventions during end-of-life care. OA Alternative Medicine 2014 Apr 04;2(1):7.

Critical review

Music Therapy

Music interventions during end-of-life care.

C Nightingale, N Cranley, E Kacel, S Wong, D Pereira, G Carnaby

Authors affiliations

(1) University of Florida, Gainesville, USA

* Corresponding author Email:



Music interventions have been identified as a burgeoning area of integrative medicine services to promote quality of life and reduce suffering. The purpose of this review is to explore the impact of music interventions on quality of life and its reported physiological and clinical outcomes in patients and informal caregivers during end-of-life care.


A literature search was conducted for eligible studies that (a) tested a music intervention, (b) focused on terminally ill patients receiving end-of-life care or informal caregivers of terminally ill patients, (c) measured quality of life or some aspect of quality of life (i.e. psychological, physical, social, spiritual) or a physiological or clinical outcome, (d) were accessible in full text, (e) peer reviewed, (f) used a quantitative design, and (g) were published in English from years 2000 – 2014. Data were abstracted from studies that met these eligibility criteria.


Studies (N = 7) demonstrated heterogeneity across study design, patient diagnosis, intervention characteristics, and outcomes assessed. Studies noted a positive effect of music interventions from pre-intervention to post-intervention or when comparing the intervention and control groups in pain, anxiety, fatigue, tiredness and drowsiness, mood, and overall quality of life.


Our findings suggest a positive effect of music interventions on various aspects of quality of life during end-of-life care. Given the paucity of music intervention studies during end-of-life care, more research is needed in this population to confirm its value in supporting quality of life for this unique group. In addition, more research should explore the positive benefit on informal caregivers of terminally ill patients.

Licensee OA Publishing London 2014. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)