Music Therapy: A Chronic Care Paradigm

Could music therapy be used for treatment of chronic conditions? Could it even prevent them from arising? Let us explore.

The biological effects of music therapy through clinical research have been explored before the turn of the century by GR Watkins of University of Illinois at Chicago, USA. In 1997, he both reviewed and confirmed the usefulness of the effects of music therapy on anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate.

Taking into consideration the death tolls from cardiovascular disease — the largest worldly contributor to chronic disease deaths — we need to find ways to maintain a healthy heart. We definitely can – for example – reduce our trans-fatty acids intake, but there are several pieces to the puzzle. Let us see if anything more recent has discovered similar phenomena as was discovered by Watkins.

A meta-analysis in year 2012, conducted by RS Loomba et al., apparently discovered the same phenomena as Watson’s findings, but here they report major effects. They mention the purported effects of music therapy on relieving anxiety and statistically reveal significant decreases both in systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as heart rate. With these findings, further studies should triangulate these effects of music therapy after being incorporated into chronic disease prevention and chronic care management  programs. Finally, allopathic facilities should aim for integrative care initiatives and involve music therapy as part of holistic treatment — particularly for those who seek complementary or alternative modes of treatment.


1: Watkins GR. Music therapy: proposed physiological mechanisms and clinical implications. Clin Nurse Spec. 1997 Mar;11(2):43-50. Review. PubMed PMID: 9233140.
2: Loomba RS, Arora R, Shah PH, Chandrasekar S, Molnar J. Effects of music on systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate: a meta-analysis. Indian Heart J. 2012 May-Jun;64(3):309-13. PubMed PMID: 22664817.

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About Adrian Levitsky

Adrian is a Research Technician and Doctoral Student at Karolinska Institutet's ClinTRID department for Inflammatory (Autoimmune) Disease research. He is a blogger for the Silverevolution initiative by ACCESS Health International. He defended his Masters thesis in Global Health at Karolinska and worked together with the CAMbrella project's Swedish team ( in analyzing global key stakeholders of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Traditional Medicine (TM). He has an avid interest in research. Particularly, he wishes to research CAM/TM and promulgate an evidence base for the potential effectiveness of integrative care -- as this communication still is lacking globally. Adrian has a background starting as a pilot at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which later evolved to studying Human Factors Psychology with a drive to understand how man and machine work together. This field often focuses heavily on research and involves testing available theories or finding new solutions to prevent work-related injuries, reduce stress, and emphasize usability/ergonomics. Teaching English in South Korea made him realize the need for innovation and imagination for all school curricula in order to solve today’s dilemmas.

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