How did Music Therapy Contribute to Patients’ Quality of Life in a Hospice and Palliative Care Setting?
This qualitative research explores how I, as a student music therapist, contributed to patients’ quality of life (QoL) in a hospice and palliative care setting. The study principally focuses on the different music therapy and personal approaches that I used and which seemed to contribute to patients’ QoL. The research was carried out at a hospice in New Zealand and I had sessions with in-patients, day hospice patients and out-patients who were all at varying stages of illness. In this research, secondary analysis of data is used to answer my research question. The data used in this study are the clinical notes and reflexive journals that I gathered while working with 67 patients in a total of 194 sessions. Because QoL is a broad complex concept, I have chosen to use a conceptual framework suggested by music therapy theorist Even Ruud (1997) to put a structure to answering my research question. In thematic analysis, the data were both deductively and inductively analysed. The findings describe music therapy methods, activities, strategies and techniques as well as personal approaches I employed which seemed to promote a sense of affective awareness, agency, belonging and meaning, and coherence of life in patients receiving hospice and palliative care. This study indicated that Ruud’s (1997) framework has particular meaning in the context of hospice palliative care and that the framework could be extended for use in hospice and palliative care. The clinical vignette further provide an exploratory view of the use of music therapy techniques and the quality of relationships, and how both of these contributed to increasing a patient’s QoL. In the discussion, the findings are further explained in the light of other studies. In particular, ‘being with’ patients underpinned all of the musical and personal approaches that I made in working with hospice patients and this is evaluated as an overarching point. Although Ruud’s (1997) idea of QoL was a good fit in my study, the study may suggests how his model could address ways in which affective awareness, agency, belonging and meaning and coherence of life can be supported with various music and personal approaches in the context of music therapy in hospice and palliative care settings.