Differences between Supportive Music and Imagery and Music Listening during Outpatient Chemotherapy and Potential Moderators of Treatment Effects

Debra S. Burns, Anthony N. Meadows, Sandra Althouse, Susan M. Perkins, Larry D. Cripe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Supportive music and imagery and music listening interventions have been effective in decreasing distress and improving mood in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, but it is unclear whether the two interventions differ in their treatment benefits. Furthermore, previous studies have not examined moderators to determine which subgroup(s) of patients may benefit most from each intervention. Objective: To examine the effects of supportive music and imagery compared with preferred music listening on responsiveness to music therapy, distress, anxiety and depression, and benefit finding. A secondary purpose was to explore sense of coherence and locus of control as potential moderators of intervention effectiveness. Methods: A single-session, two-group comparative effectiveness randomized trial in two cancer centers. Patients were randomized to supportive music and imagery or preferred music listening during outpatient chemotherapy treatment. Data were collected at baseline and immediately after the 45-minute session. ANCOVA models were used to determine main effects of intervention as well as pairing potential moderators with group assignment to explore differences in intervention effects by moderator. Results: There were differential effects between the two interventions with the supportive music and imagery group scoring higher in responsiveness to music therapy and benefit finding. The music listening group scores indicated lower distress. The exploratory moderating analyses suggested Health Locus of Control-Internal and Sense of Coherence influenced intervention effectiveness. Conclusions: Music and imagery and preferred music listening experiences may serve different therapeutic purposes, access and activate different patient resources, and may be helpful at different stages of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-108
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Music Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 9 2018


  • Cancer care
  • Comparative effectiveness
  • Music listening
  • Supportive music and imagery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Music

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