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  1. Corrigan, Maxwell MS, MT-BC
  2. Keeler, Jason MM, MT-BC
  3. Miller, Harriet PhD, APRN, CPN, CCRP
  4. Naylor, Christine BSN, RNC-NIC, CBC
  5. Diaz, Ann MA, BSN, RN, NE-BC


Background: Family-integrated care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is the criterion standard. Parent-infant bonding may be an indicator of successful family involvement. Music therapy (MT) is a growing service in the NICU, with interventions to support meaningful family involvement and improve bonding.


Purpose: To study the effects of heartbeat-music interventions to support mother-infant bonding in the NICU and explore experiences of mothers participating in MT.


Methods: Parallel-group randomized trial (MT vs standard care) to compare Mother-to-Infant Bonding Scale (MIBS) scores from baseline to 1 week postenrollment. MT included 2 heartbeat-music interventions (recorded maternal lullaby and heartbeat for infants, and recorded infant heartbeat and preferred music for mothers). Five mothers were randomly asked to complete a survey regarding their experiences with MT services.


Results: One hundred mothers enrolled. In total, 44.3% completed the MIBS follow-up. Covarying out baseline MIBS, one-way analysis of covariance found no statistical difference between groups for MIBS 1-week follow-up (MT: mean = 0.64, SD = 1.6; standard care: mean = 0.57, SD = 1.5; P = .60) but underpowered in post hoc. Comforting, family cohesion, and personal growth and development themes emerged in qualitative analysis of survey responses.


Implications for Practice: MT remains a viable service for purposefully including parents in the care of their NICU infants. Nurses and music therapists must work closely to successfully implement meaningful interventions such as heartbeat-music.


Implications for Research: Heartbeat-music interventions should be further studied for diverse applications, including family integration, family coping, and bereavement.