The effect of music therapy on self-reported affect in hospitalised paediatric patients : a thesis submitted to the New Zealand School of Music in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music Therapy
The present research examines the effect of music therapy on the affect of
hospitalised children. It took place on a paediatric ward of a New Zealand
public hospital. This study aimed to investigate the role of music therapy in
addressing patients’ psychosocial needs. Literature on the impact of
hospitalisation, and on the use of music therapy in hospitals and paediatrics
was reviewed. The research involved an audit of the therapist’s clinical
notes from music therapy sessions over the course of seven months. The
clinical notes included measurements of children’s mood from the beginning
and end of sessions, using McGrath’s (1990) Affective Facial Scale. It was
hypothesised that mood measures following music therapy would be higher
than pre-music therapy scores. Statistical analysis of the facial scale data did
not show a significant difference between ‘before’ and ‘after’ measures.
These results were discussed with regard to a ceiling effect (this is, the
measurements indicated patients were at the happy end of the scale before
the music therapy session, so there was little room on the scale for mood to
improve following music therapy). The measurement of emotion did not
prove to be straightforward. The hospital environment may have influenced
the patients’ responses in a number of ways. These environmental
influences are discussed with reference to examples from the clinical notes.
The usefulness of facial scales in this context is discussed, as well as other
limitations of the research. Suggestions for future research include the use
of other mood measures, and the inclusion of measurements of parental
mood and how this affects the child.