Patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) may experience beneficial effects from music therapy (MT), according to the results of a new study published in the Journal of Pain Research. Patients who received MT learned new self-management skills and also improved their ability to cope with pain.

The study found that MT significantly improved scores in Sickle Cell Self-Efficacy Scale (SCSES) (P =.08), Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System-29 (PROMIS-29), sleep disturbance (P =.023), PROMIS-29 pain interference (P =.016), and the Adult Sickle Cell Quality of Life Measurement System (ASCQ-Me) social functioning impact (P =.018).

“Preliminary findings support the feasibility and acceptability of music therapy for home use in adults with SCD and chronic pain,” the authors said. “Music therapy may assist adults with SCD in reducing pain interference and improving their sleep, social functioning, and perceived ability to manage their symptoms.”

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Major themes emerged from qualitative data that were collected during the study including how MT helped them better understand the relationship between SCD, their body, and its impacts on their emotions and stress. Another theme was patients noting that MT reduced their perception of pain and stress and ultimately showed them that they needed fewer external interventions to cope with them.

A total of 24 patients with SCD were enrolled and randomized 1:1 between the MT group and the waitlist control (WC) group. During the study, all patients completed daily morning and evening pain diary entries for 2 weeks. Then, patients in the MT group received 6 weekly MT sessions while the WC group received no interventions.

After these 6 weeks, patients were asked to complete another 2 weeks of daily pain diary entries before post-tests which included the SCSES, PROMIS-29, ASCQ-Me, and the Coping Skills Questionnaire for Sickle Cell Disease. Participants in the WC group were then able to participate in the 6 MT sessions.


Rodgers-Melnick SN, Lin L, Gam K, et al. Effects of music therapy on quality of life in adults with sickle cell disease (MUSIQOLS): a mixed methods feasibility study. J Pain Res. 2022;15:71-91. doi:10.2147/jpr.s337390