Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not music therapy is a complementary treatment option for perinatal women experiencing stress and anxiety.

STUDY DESIGN: Literature review of three English language studies, published between 2006 and present.

DATA SOURCES: Three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were found using a search of Pubmed, Medline, OVID, and Cochrane databases. These studies analyzed the use of a music therapy intervention among pregnant or postpartum women suffering stress, anxiety and/or depression.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: The outcomes of interest include stress, anxiety and severity of depression symptoms. Outcomes were measured using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), the Scale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (S-STAI), and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

RESULTS: Chang et al found that following a two-week music therapy intervention the experimental group had lower mean scores for PSS, S-STAI and EPDS when compared to baseline (p < 0.001; p = 0.01; p < 0.001, respectively). Moreover, an ANCOVA analysis comparing the effectiveness of the music therapy revealed that women in the experimental group had relatively lower scores than the control group for S-STAI, EPDS, and PSS. Tseng et al determined that there were no significant differences in PSS and S-STAI scores between the control group and experimental group post-intervention (F = 0.61, p = 0.438; F = 1.30, p = 0.258). The authors concluded that postpartum mothers who listened to music for two weeks did not show significantly decreased PSS and S-STAI scores. Yang et al determined that following music therapy, S-STAI scores among the intervention group improved significantly (p < 0.01), supporting the fact that music therapy was effective in reducing anxiety among high-risk pregnant women.

CONCLUSIONS: Two of three studies demonstrated that music therapy is an effective treatment for perinatal stress and anxiety. Given its low cost and ease of administration, music therapy can be utilized as a primary treatment option or adjunctively to the current standard of care. Future studies would benefit from focusing on the long-term effects of music therapy on perinatal anxiety and stress.