Randomized controlled trial of the active music engagement (AME) intervention on children with cancer

Sheri L. Robb, Alicia A. Clair, Masayo Watanabe, Patrick O. Monahan, Faouzi Azzouz, Janice W. Stouffer, Allison Ebberts, Emily Darsie, Courtney Whitmer, Joey Walker, Kirsten Nelson, Deanna Hanson-Abromeit, Deforia Lane, Ann Hannan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Background: Coping theorists argue that environmental factors affect how children perceive and respond to stressful events such as cancer. However, few studies have investigated how particular interventions can change coping behaviors. The active music engagement (AME) intervention was designed to counter stressful qualities of the in-patient hospital environment by introducing three forms of environmental support. Method: The purpose of this multi-site randomized controlled trial was to determine the efficacy of the AME intervention on three coping-related behaviors (i.e. positive facial affect, active engagement, and initiation). Eighty-three participants, ages 4-7, were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: AME (n = 27), music listening (ML; n = 28), or audio storybooks (ASB; n = 28). Conditions were videotaped to facilitate behavioral data collection using time-sampling procedures. Results: After adjusting for baseline differences, repeated measure analyses indicated that AME participants had a significantly higher frequency of coping-related behaviors compared with ML or ASB. Positive facial affect and active engagement were significantly higher during AME compared with ML and ASB (p < 0.0001). Initiation was significantly higher during AME than ASB (p < 0.05). Conclusion: This study supports the use of the AME intervention to encourage coping-related behaviors in hospitalized children aged 4-7 receiving cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-708
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • Cancer
  • Coping behavior
  • Hospitalized children
  • Music therapy
  • Oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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    Robb, S. L., Clair, A. A., Watanabe, M., Monahan, P. O., Azzouz, F., Stouffer, J. W., Ebberts, A., Darsie, E., Whitmer, C., Walker, J., Nelson, K., Hanson-Abromeit, D., Lane, D., & Hannan, A. (2008). Randomized controlled trial of the active music engagement (AME) intervention on children with cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 17(7), 699-708. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.1301