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Keywords:

  • music therapy;
  • nursing;
  • midwifery;
  • prenatal care;
  • psychological health;
  • randomized controlled trial

Aims and objectives.  The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of music therapy on stress, anxiety and depression in Taiwanese pregnant women.

Background.  The value of music therapy is slowly being realized by nurses in various clinical areas, including obstetrics. Previous studies have demonstrated a high prevalence of psychological stress during pregnancy. Few studies have examined the effects of music therapy on reducing psychological stress during pregnancy.

Design.  A randomized experimental study design was developed and implemented.

Methods.  Two hundred and thirty-six pregnant women were randomly assigned to music therapy (n = 116) and control (n = 120) groups. The music therapy group received two weeks of music intervention. The control group received only general prenatal care. Psychological health was assessed using three self-report measures: Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), State Scale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (S-STAI) and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

Results.  In a paired t-test, the music therapy group showed significant decrease in PSS, S-STAI and EPDS after two weeks. The control group only showed a significant decrease in PSS after two weeks. This decrease was not as substantial as in the experimental group. An ancova test with the pretest scores as the control revealed that the changes in PSS, S-STAI and EPDS after two weeks were significantly decreased in the experimental group compared with the control group.

Conclusions.  This controlled trial provides preliminary evidence that two-week music therapy during pregnancy provides quantifiable psychological benefits.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The findings can be used to encourage pregnant women to use this cost-effective method of music in their daily life to reduce their stress, anxiety and depression. Further research is needed to test the long-term benefits.