I recently read two journal articles on chronic pain. Each was with a different clinical population and each used different methods. However, each addressed the fact that treating pain can often mean treating more than a physical symptom. There are often cultural, spiritual, and psychological issues that can complicate or exacerbate the patient’s perception and experience of pain. The first dealt with patients with Sickle Cell Disease. Theories of pain management and previous research has shown that interventions that elicit more patient engagement may be more successful in mitigating pain. The study compared participation in guided improvisation with music listening and a control group. The patients that participated in an improvisation session reported both improved mood and greater pain relief. The participants were asked to choose their preferred genre of music for both listening and improvisation at time of recruitment rather than at time of treatment so there was a patient that would have preferred music listening to improvisation and another that would have preferred a different style of music for listening.
The second study looked at using Group Music and Imagery with patients with Fibromyalgia. The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery is a music-based method used to help a patient focus inward and resolve tension and issues. A group-based form of guided imagery has recently been developed. Participants in this study attend twelve two-hour sessions that met weekly. They began the session by discussing things that had come up in the previous week. The therapist then guided them in relaxation followed by music listening. During the active listening stage, they did not speak with each other or the therapist. The therapist monitored the patients. This was followed by time to create a visual representation of their experience and time to process with the therapist. Participants that received Group Music and Imagery reported improved pain control as well as psychological well-being.
Both studies can be found in the Summer 2018 issue of the Journal of Music Therapy.