Investigating trial feasibility of music care in hospice and palliative care — Arbaaz Patel, Caleb Kim, SarahRose Black, Bev Foster & Chelsea Mackinnon

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Investigating trial feasibility of music care in hospice and palliative care

Arbaaz Patel, Caleb Kim, SarahRose Black, Bev Foster & Chelsea Mackinnon


The nature of hospice and palliative care (HPC) settings necessitates supporting residents’ ever-changing needs and responding to unforeseeable situations – as such, this unpredictability has historically challenged the collection of high-quality data in such settings. Through a feedback consensus approach, this pilot study sought to determine the feasibility of implementing a clinical trial aiming to understand the impact of a recorded music care intervention on quality of life (QoL) in HPC settings. Four participants with a palliative performance scale (PPS) score of ≥ 40 were recruited. Pre-developed music care albums designed for HPC were used as an intervention for a minimum duration of 30-minutes. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale, Hospice Quality of Life Index, and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory were implemented to mirror a future randomised controlled trial (RCT) design but were not statistically interpreted in this pilot study. Data collectors also recorded participants’ and care providers’ perspectives. Through feedback from participants, healthcare professionals, and music care experts, the intervention duration was reduced to a minimum of 15-minutes, and the PPS inclusion criteria requirement was eliminated. The number of outcome measures was reduced from three to one to mitigate participant burnout. Finally, participants indicated that the recorded music intervention was therapeutic, therefore justifying further study of QoL outcome measures. Implementing a second pilot to validate the changes to the RCT study protocol will be a critical step in the research process, although the results of this study can be considered by researchers conducting RCTs in HPC to inform best practices.


hospice and palliative care (HPC), music care, quality of life (QoL), trial-feasibility, randomised-controlled trial (RCT)


Arbaaz Patel is a graduate from the Bachelor of Health Sciences and Undergraduate Medical Education programs from McMaster University and is currently a Diagnostic Radiology resident at Hamilton Health Sciences. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario and has a strong interest in the use of music in healthcare settings. []

Caleb Kim is a graduate from the Bachelor of Health Sciences program from McMaster University and is currently studying Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. During his time as an undergraduate thesis student, his research focused on the effectiveness of music interventions on the quality of care in the hospice and palliative care population in Hamilton, Ontario. He lives in the City of Kawartha Lakes and aspires to advocate for underserved populations through the healthcare profession []

SarahRose Black (PhD, MMT, MA, BMus) is a certified music therapist and registered psychotherapist, specializing in palliative care and psychosocial oncology at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Kensington Hospice in Toronto. Her research interests include music therapy within assisted dying, and for adolescents with cancer. SarahRose is a graduate supervisor at Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Editor in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy. []

Bev Foster (MA, Bed, BMus, ARCT, Amus) is the Founder and Executive Director of the Room 217 Foundation, a health arts organization improving the culture of care with music. She is an experienced musician who speaks and writes extensively on the power of music, especially in life limiting situations. []

Chelsea Mackinnon (MMIE, MA, BHSc) is a sessional instructor and thesis supervisor at McMaster University in the Faculty of Health Sciences where she engages students in community-based education and teaches coursework in music and health. Chelsea’s research interests include community music, long term care and intergenerational music-making. []