cardiac rehabilitation, music therapy, narrative, psychosocial needs, qualitative research, semiotic



  1. Short, Alison PhD, MA, BMus, RMT, MT-BC, FAMI, RGIMT
  2. Gibb, Heather PhD, MPsych (Organisational), RN
  3. Fildes, Jennifer MPsych, RN, CM
  4. Holmes, Colin PhD, MPhil


Background: Cardiac rehabilitation integrates physical, psychological, and vocational strategies to restore and sustain optimal health.


Objective: An innovative study using music therapy (Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music [BMGIM]) explored the experiences of cardiac rehabilitation participants in an outpatient setting at 2 major metropolitan teaching hospitals.


Methods: Commencing 6 to 15 weeks after cardiothoracic surgery, 6 study participants were recruited for 6 weekly music therapy (BMGIM) sessions. Qualitative analysis of the patient narrative within a semiotic framework demonstrated that patients used music therapy to spontaneously explore their recovery process.


Results: Five grand themes emerged: (1) looking through the frame, (2) feeling the impact, (3) spiralling into the unexpected, (4) sublime plateau, and (5) rehearsing new steps. The themes related to physical changes, adjustment after surgery, and anticipated lifestyle.


Conclusions: This study demonstrates that music therapy (BMGIM) may be used to access and understand the internal recovery process of postcardiothoracic surgical patients, providing an additional clinical tool to augment the external rehabilitation process.