Evaluation of non-pharmcological interventions using the example of music therapy

Palliative Medicine

Head of Department:
Prof. Dr. med. Christoph Ostgathe

Evaluation of non-pharmcological interventions using the example of music therapy

Monitoring the physiological effects of music therapy on healthy volunteers
Quelle: Palliativmedizinische Abteilung

Music therapy is frequently used in palliative care, among other non-pharmacological interventions, e.g. physiotherapy, art therapy, and psychological and spiritual care. Until now, music therapy has been mainly evaluated and researched by patients’ self-assessment. Its effect is described as a decrease in pain perception and an increase in well-being and relaxation. However, its effect on physiological parameters like heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure or the activity of the autonomic nervous system, has not yet been investigated sufficiently in a palliative care population – partially due to the vulnerability of this patient group. Palliative care refrains from burdening diagnostics and equipment, where possible, in favor of mobility and quality of life. Moreover, the monitoring of these parameters using contact-based, unconfortable electrodes may lead to a falsification of the results.

Therefore, touchless, radar-based monitoring of heart activity may be suitable to assess the physiological effects of music therapeutic interventions on palliative patients. PallMeT investigates the effect of music therapy on the autonomic nervous system in the research project GUARDIAN-MT, in collaboration with Prof. Susanne Metzner at the Institute for Music Pedagogy, Music Therapy and Musicology and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Health Research (ZIG) at Augsburg University. GUARDIAN-MT is part of GUARDIAN.

Touchless monitoring of physiological parameters by radar technology
Quelle: Palliativmedizinische Abteilung

GUARDIAN-MT comprises two phases. In Phase 1, healthy volunteers (n=20) receive music therapy in the form of music performed live. The control group listens to a live reading of a text. During the intervention, the autonomic nervous system is activated by a cold stimulus of the hand. The heart activity is monitored by radar as well as gold standard methods (electrocardiography, continuous blood pressure and impedance measurement) for validation. Data collected in phase 1 serves as basis for phase 2. In phase 2, the effect of –music therapy as part of a personalized treatment plan on the autonomic nervous system of palliative patients is determined by radar-based diagnostics . In this sub-project, PallMeT investigates the physiological effects of music therapy. The team of Prof. Metzner at the Institute for Music Pedagogy, Music Therapy and Musicology at Augsburg University captures and assesses the music-therapeutic effect by using questionnaires on individual music habits and the current mental state as well as semi-structured interviews directly after the experiment and three days later.

Our partner in this project is: Prof. Dr. sc. mus. habil Susanne Metzner (Leopold-Mozart-Centre, Institute for Music Pedagogy, Music Therapy and Musicology, University of Augsburg, Germany and Centre for Interdisciplinary Health Research (ZIG), University of Augsburg, Germany). Link

Description of the research project (german)

Research Associate: Dr. Anke Malessa

Contact: Dr. Tobias Steigleder, Dr. Anke Malessa