The Effect of Music Therapy on Self-Reported Affect in Hospitalised Paediatric Patients
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.