More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Music therapy improves schizophrenia symptoms
By Liam Davenport
30 October 2007
Act Psychiatr Scand 2007; 116: 362-370

Musical activity reduces negative symptoms and improves interpersonal contact in patients with schizophrenia, potentially increasing their ability to adapt socially after hospital discharge, says an international team of scientists.

Schizophrenia has a major impact on social function and, while the most common treatments reduce positive symptoms, the impact on negative symptoms has been modest, explain Gunnar Ulrich, from Rhenish Clinic Bedburg-Hau in Germany, and colleagues.

Noting that music therapy has been recently introduced as a treatment for schizophrenia, the team assigned 37 patients with psychotic disorders to standard medication and treatment. Of these patients, 21 also underwent music therapy, consisting of an average of 7.5 45-minute sessions of playing on rhythm instruments, while the remainder acted as controls.

The results, published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, show that there were significant improvements in self-assessed psychosocial contact on the Gie?entest for patients in the music therapy group, compared with the control groups. However, there were no differences between the two groups when the measure was assessed by nurses.

After treatment, there were also significant differences in Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms scores between the two groups on all but the apathy subscale. However, the team could find no differences in post-treatment quality of life on the Skalen zur psychischen Gesundheit between intervention and control groups.

The team concludes: "Musical activity seems to diminish negative symptoms and improves interpersonal contact. For psychiatric in-patients, music therapy is a welcome change from the usual ward routine. It has no negative side effects and costs only moderately."

They add: "The positive effects of music therapy could increase the patient's abilities to adapt to the social environment in the community after their discharge from the hospital. Therefore, it appears advisable to prescribe music therapy for schizophrenia patients more than it is done up to now."

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