Can Music Benefit COPD Patients?

Pharmacists may want to encourage their patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to complement their pharmacologic treatment with music therapy.

Pharmacists may want to encourage their patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to complement their pharmacologic treatment with music therapy.

A new study published in Respiratory Medicine provides evidence that music can have a positive effect on respiratory symptoms, psychological well-being, and quality of life.

Music therapist and lead study author Bernardo Canga, MMT, told Pharmacy Times that pharmacists could help spread this knowledge.

“As part of the interdisciplinary team providing comprehensive care to patients with pulmonary diseases, it is important for pharmacists to know about available integrative resources that may alleviate their patients' burden and help them monitor their own symptoms,” Canga said.

The researchers’ study involved 98 adults aged 48 to 88 years who had moderate to severe lung disease or other chronic airflow limitations. The mean age was around 70 years.

Those who received music therapy participated in wind playing and singing, and they also experienced music visualization—all on a weekly basis.

The participants in the music therapy group were able to listen to music tailored to their personal preferences, which helped promote self-expression and engagement, the Mount Sinai Health System press release noted.

Meanwhile, the control group received standard care treatment.

Both the intervention group and the control group were followed from baseline to 6 weeks after the treatment, and the researchers used the Beck Depression Inventory Scale 2nd edition-Fast Screen, the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire Self-Reported, and the Dyspnea Visual Analog Scale to determine results.

The researchers found that the music therapy group saw improvements in depression, dyspnea, and fatigue.

The dyspnea scale showed a “highly significant” beneficial effect among the patients who received music therapy in the period between week 5 and 6, in particular.

“The findings of this study suggest that music therapy combined with standard pulmonary rehabilitation may prove to be an effective modality in the management of pulmonary disease,” the researchers concluded.

In addition to informing patients about the potential benefits of music therapy, pharmacists should also provide a few other counseling points for their COPD patients, according to Kimberly Henderson, MD, JD, medical director of Health Systems Alliance at CVS Health and regional medical director of MinuteClinic.

Dr. Henderson told Pharmacy Times that 3 of the most important counseling points pharmacists can make are to:

1. Seek help right away if patients continue to feel sick, so that their medication can be adjusted.

2. Continue taking their COPD medications even if they do not feel sick.

3. Ask a health care professional about questions related to their medication or adverse effects.

COPD was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2011, and 15 million Americans are affected by the disease, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.