porter s., holmes v., mclaughlin k., lynn f., cardwell c., braiden h.-j., doran j. & rogan s. (2012) Music in mind, a randomized controlled trial of music therapy for young people with behavioural and emotional problems: study protocol. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(10), 2349–2358.
Aims. This article is a report of a trial protocol to determine if improvizational music therapy leads to clinically significant improvement in communication and interaction skills for young people experiencing social, emotional or behavioural problems.
Background. Music therapy is often considered an effective intervention for young people experiencing social, emotional or behavioural difficulties. However, this assumption lacks empirical evidence.
Study design. Music in mind is a multi-centred single-blind randomized controlled trial involving 200 young people (aged 8–16 years) and their parents. Eligible participants will have a working diagnosis within the ambit of International Classification of Disease 10 Mental and Behavioural Disorders and will be recruited over 15 months from six centres within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services of a large health and social care trust in Northern Ireland. Participants will be randomly allocated in a 1:1 ratio to receive standard care alone or standard care plus 12 weekly music therapy sessions delivered by the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust. Baseline data will be collected from young people and their parents using standardized outcome measures for communicative and interaction skills (primary endpoint), self-esteem, social functioning, depression and family functioning. Follow-up data will be collected 1 and 13 weeks after the final music therapy session. A cost-effectiveness analysis will also be carried out.
Discussion. This study will be the largest trial to date examining the effect of music therapy on young people experiencing social, emotional or behavioural difficulties and will provide empirical evidence for the use of music therapy among this population.
Trial registration. This study is registered in the ISRCTN Register, ISRCTN96352204. Ethical approval was gained in October 2010.