1. Beal, Judy

Article Content

Arnon, S., Shapsa, A., Forman, L., Regev, R., Bauer, S., Litmanovitz, L., et al. (2006). Birth, 33, 131-136.

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Research has shown that music can be an effective and inexpensive intervention for alleviating stress and increasing satisfaction in hospitalized patients in many settings, including the neonatal intensive care unit (Kemper & Danhauer, 2005; Scheve, 2004; Standley, 2002). This international team of five physicians and two nurses from Israel hypothesized that live music therapy was more beneficial in improving physiological and behavioral outcomes of preterm infants in the NICU than the typically used recorded music. A small sample of 31 stable infants of postconceptual age of 32 weeks or more weighing at least 1500 grams with confirmed hearing ability and no neurological abnormalities or otoacoustic sensitivities were randomly assigned to one of three groups: live music therapy, recorded music therapy, or no music therapy. Noise level in the environment was well controlled for all groups. Heart beats per minute, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and behavioral state were recorded every 5 min before, during, and after a 30-min therapy. Parents and providers completed a brief survey assessing perception of effects of the interventions. The live music had no significant effect on any of the infant outcomes during the 30-min music therapy interval, but after the live music therapy ended, infants had a significantly decreased heart rate and an improved behavioral state score, which meant that the infant was less aroused or upset and in a deeper sleep state (p < .001). Infants in the recorded or no music therapy groups showed no differences on any of the measured outcomes. Parents and providers preferred live music therapy to the other formats. Limited by a small, nonrepresentative sample and very practical questions around expense, infection control, and logistics of providing live music, further research should be conducted to validate these intriguing findings.


Judy Beal




Kemper, K. J., & Danhauer, S. C. (2005). Music as therapy. Southern Medical Journal, 98, 282-288. [Context Link]


Scheve, A. M. (2004). Music therapy, wellness, and stress reduction. Advances in Experimental Medical Biology, 546, 253-263. [Context Link]


Standley, K. M. (2002). A meta-analysis of the efficacy of music therapy for premature infants. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 17, 107-113. [Context Link]