A new study on the attitudes of oncology healthcare professionals toward the use of music therapy in healthcare practice indicates broad interest and a common perception of high value associated with the use of music therapy. However, knowledge about how to apply music therapy in healthcare settings was more limited. The study results were reported in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer.

The study was based on a quantitative survey of healthcare professionals (N=204) participating in online education provided by the de Souza Institute at the University Health Network in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The survey primarily addressed participants’ attitudes around music in healthcare, music therapy awareness, knowledge around music therapy, and their own use of music in healthcare.

The majority of participants in the study (79.5%) were registered nurses. Awareness of the use of music in therapy was reported in 97.9% of participants. Overall, 92.8% of participants considered music to be at least moderately effective at inducing a relaxing environment, and 90.9% indicated it contributes to a reduction in stress.

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Contrary to the relatively high level of awareness of music therapy and generally favorable attitudes toward its use, only 55.5% of the professionals in this study expressed being at least somewhat knowledgeable about how to apply music therapy to patient care, including how to generate a referral for music therapy. However, there was overall a high level of interest in learning how to involve music therapy in participants’ own practices.

“This study found a discrepancy between the perceived value of music among healthcare professionals working in palliative or oncology care and knowledge and confidence levels in how to deliver music-oriented interventions, or support it,” stated the researchers in their report. They recommended greater education around the use of music in healthcare.


Esplen MJ, Foster B, Pearson S, et al. A survey of oncology healthcare professionals’ knowledge and attitudes toward the use of music as a therapeutic tool in healthcare. Support Care Cancer. 2020;28(1):381-388.