Researchers have confirmed that singing, listening, or playing music, music therapy in short, leads to better well-being and improved health-related quality of life.
An analysis of 26 studies comprising 779 individuals found that music interventions were associated with statistically and clinically significant changes in mental health. However, scientists are yet to understand the magnitude of music’s positive association with health-related quality of life.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, researchers said that listening to and making music is increasingly advocated, including in a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report, as a means of improving health-related quality of life, as well as various domains of well-being in clinical and healthy populations.
The analysis revealed that music therapy had a similar positive reinforcement among people as they experienced from weight loss in studies of adults with obesity. Led by J. Matt McCrary, Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine, Hannover University of Music, Drama, and Media in Germany, researchers synthesized results of studies investigating outcomes of music interventions in terms of health-related quality of life.
“Increasing evidence supports the ability of music to broadly promote wellbeing and health-related quality of life (HRQOL),” write the researchers in their published paper. “However, the magnitude of music’s positive association with HRQOL is still unclear, particularly relative to established interventions, limiting inclusion of music interventions in health policy and care.”
According to the study authors, the mental health boost from music is “within the range, albeit on the low end” of the same sort of impact seen in people who commit to physical exercise or weight loss programmes.
The researchers hope that studies such as this one will encourage health professionals to prescribe some kind of music therapy more often when it comes to helping patients recover from illness or maintain good mental health.