Music Therapy clinical outcomes

Clinical outcomes are measurable changes in health, function or quality of life that result from our care. Constant review of our clinical outcomes establishes standards against which to continuously improve all aspects of our practice.

Music Therapy clinical outcomes

The aim of music therapy is to create a fun, interactive musical connection and build on this to achieve longer term goals. Goals can include helping a child or young person develop their coping skills, work on their communication, cognitive, fine or gross motor skills through music, or increase their ability to express how they’re feeling.

Our music therapist is trained to assess patients with a variety of medical conditions to support them in the following areas:

  • reaching and maintaining developmental milestones
  • rehabilitation and recovery of cognitive, sensorimotor, and communication deficits due to neurologic injury or disease
  • emotional processing and expression
  • coping with stress and anxiety surrounding diagnosis and medical treatment
  • pain management and relaxation techniques
  • psychological well-being related to short- and long-term effects of medical diagnosis and hospital admission
  • normalising the patient’s environment and supporting positive family experiences
  • increasing patients' engagement in other therapies

Music therapy is now part of the multidisciplinary team for the following services: Haematology and Oncology; Bone Marrow Transplant; Immunology; Respiratory and Transitional Care; Cardiology; Gastroenterology; Intensive and High Dependency Care; Neurodisability and Neurosurgery, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

Our music therapist works routinely with a wide range of specialist teams at GOSH, including the Play team, Speech and Language Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Social Work, and nursing and medical teams. She also works closely with the Learning Disability team to support patients with learning disabilities and/or autism during inpatient admissions and outpatient visits across the hospital.

Clinical outcome measures

1. Children and young people


Feedback cards are being used to gather the first-hand experience of children, young people, and their families through written or drawn responses.

The cards collected provide further qualitative evidence that patients and family perceive music therapy to have a positive impact on their experience of care.

Figure 1. Examples of feedback card

2. Patient-reported outcome measure

Here, we provide our outcomes from the perspective of parents and carers. This patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) gives us information about how our service helps children and young people, and their parents and carers. The PROM shows the ways music therapy assists children, young people and their families during their stay at GOSH, for example in reducing anxiety.

Below is a summary of results from April to July 2023.

How helpful is music therapy for your child

Results have shown that parents and carers find music therapy is helpful for their child during their stay at GOSH. Responses between April 2023 to July 2023 show 100% (57/57) of parents and carers said music therapy was extremely or very helpful in reducing levels of anxiety in their child. Similarly, 100% (57/57) said it was extremely helpful or very helpful in aiding their child to express their feelings, improve their mood, and to provide comfort to their child. Almost all parents and carers 97% (n=55/57) said music therapy was extremely or very helpful as an opportunity for play for their child, and 98% (56/57) said it normalised the environment. 86% (49/57) said it was extremely or very helpful in distracting from pain, and 82% (47/57) a distraction from treatment and/or procedures.

How helpful is music therapy for you (parent and carers)

Results have shown that parents and carers find music therapy helpful during their child’s hospital stay at GOSH. Responses between April 2023 to July 2023 show 98% (56/57) of parents and carers said music therapy was extremely or very helpful in reducing their levels of anxiety, improving their mood, and providing them comfort. 97% (55/57) of parents and carers said it was extremely or very helpful in increasing the opportunity to interact and bond with their child. Overall parents and carers said that music therapy was extremely or very helpful for both their child and themselves across all aspects of the PROM.

3. Staff Survey

Surveys have also been completed by staff to gauge the impact of the service on staff and patient experience. These are completed online through a page created by the hospital’s Clinical Evaluation department. All surveys are submitted anonymously (job title only). Respondents include doctors, nursing staff, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, radiographers, play workers, play specialists, and psychologists.

Responses to the three survey questions suggest that staff perceive music therapy to have a positive impact on patient well-being (i.e., reducing stress, providing comfort, improving mood). For responses between April 2019 and October 2020, 97% (93/96) of staff said music therapy is extremely or very helpful in reducing patient stress. Staff also said music therapy has an impact on parents’ bonding with their child as well as parent/caregiver well-being, with 94% (90/96) of reporting music therapy to be extremely or very helpful in improving parent or carer mood. Responses showed music therapy has a positive impact on staff, particularly in providing a collaborative way of working. 89% (85/96) of staff said music therapy was extremely or very helpful for promoting collaborative work.

The above is also reflected in qualitative responses by staff, with numerous comments reporting the benefits of music therapy for promoting collaborative multi-disciplinary working, and observing ways in which joint sessions can assist in engaging patients with other therapeutic interventions.

Examples of staff feedback

"Parents 'light up' when they see their child engaging in music therapy." - Ward Sister

"I have found music therapy to be enormously helpful to increase engagement in therapy... For long stay patients, music therapy provides the child with the motivation to engage and participate." - Occupational Therapist

"Having access to a music therapist is an absolute asset to the hospital, its patients, family and staff. Given the opportunity - if there was more staffing in this area, I would refer music therapy services for a lot more of my patients. After witnessing its benefits, I feel it’s a really essential service in the hospital." - Clinical Nurse Specialist

"Music therapy has been absolutely excellent with our long-term children. The holistic difference it has made to the children is outstanding." - Staff Nurse

"We love it and want more!!!! It is a powerful and effective way to support the health and wellbeing of patients and their families. Katya is exceptional, caring and holistic - we couldn’t ask for better!"- Play Specialist

"It is such a wonderful and valuable service in which brings a lot of happiness to staff and patients. The music therapist is very professional and compassionate. Works alongside AHP's to support their sessions which have brought brilliant outcomes!" - Occupational Therapist

"We have used sessions jointly with Physiotherapy to aid participation and achievement in sessions. Katya is expert at tailoring her approach to the abilities and preferences of each child and then modifying to facilitate other goals e.g. ability to reach, sit, stand etc." - Physiotherapist

Continuous improvement

From our PROM results, we have learnt that the majority of respondents receive music therapy once a week: 94% would like that increased (with most requesting sessions ‘three times a week’ or ‘daily’). We know that the demand for music therapy at GOSH significantly outstrips the capacity of what is currently a one-person service. With this feedback in mind, we will apply for an increased funding next year, to cover the recruitment of two additional music therapists.

Last review date:
September 2023