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Music Therapy Effects for Breast Cancer Patients


The research by Lesiuk (2015) is dedicated to discovering the effect of mindfulness-based music therapy on attention and mood among women diagnosed with breast cancer who receive adjuvant chemotherapy. Previous studies prove that breast cancer treatments are harmful for normal cognitive functioning of women. At the same time, mindfulness has a potential for improving cognitive functions. Moreover, music can be favorable for mindfulness practice. Nevertheless, there are no studies dedicated to mindfulness-based music therapy (MBMT) applied for women receiving chemotherapy treatment, which deal with the problems of the attention deficits or symptom distress, and Lesiuik (2015) attempts to discover these issues in her pilot study. The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze the mentioned article, single out its findings, and discover the implications for evidence-based nursing practice.

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Research Question

The research question for this study is whether mindfulness-based music therapy influences attention and mood in women who receive adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. The benefits of mindfulness-based therapy involving art were also investigated by Jang, Kang, Lee, and Lee (2016). Their research proves that mindfulness-based art therapy is an efficient tool, which can be successfully applied for breast cancer patients to increase their psychological stability and improve the quality of life. Thus, their randomized control trial provided evidence that mindfulness-based art therapy results in a decrease of depression and anxiety in breast cancer patients (Jang et al., 2016). The research question could be prompted by previous studies related to similar issues. For example, Schellekens et al. (2014) conducted a research that compared mindfulness-based stress reduction and common strategies used for stress reduction in lung cancer patients.

Research Design

This study uses a quantitative, descriptive, longitudinal approach. Quantitative descriptive research design suits the research tasks better than other designs because it was necessary to describe the changes observed by the participants as a results of MBMT and measured with the help of a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). Qualitative approach would not be beneficial for this research problem because it would not provide an opportunity to measure the effect of the suggested methodology. The longitudinal approach is good for this study due to the specific character of breast cancer treatment, which is usually long (in this study, the participants were receiving chemotherapy in six cycles every three weeks).


The sample for this study consisted of 15 women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. The sample is not big as for a quantitative study, but considering a setting of a comprehensive cancer hospital and the necessity to select patients with the same diagnosis and the same therapy plan, the sample size can be considered satisfactory. The mean age of the women involved in the study was 52.6 years. They received an average of 1.9 years of music training (Lesiuk, 2015). The numbers used in this study are adequate for the conditions of the research. However, for greater reliability and validity, a bigger sample could have been involved.

Data Collection Method

The research data were collected by the author, Lesiuk. Conner’s Continuous Performance Test II was applied as a measurement tool. It allowed conducting “a 14-minute-long computerized assessment of attention, impulsivity, and vigilance” (Lesiuk, 2015, p. 278). There is no information about ethical considerations or informed consent which was supposed to be signed by the research participants. Consequently, it can be considered a gap of this article.

Limitations of the Study

One of the major limitations of this study is a small sample size. Also, there was no wait-list control condition. Moreover, patients involved in the study received chemotherapy for different periods of time before they started MBMT. The limitations could be overcome in further studies through involving a bigger sample, which will also allow selecting patients who have a similar history of treatment to contribute to reliability and validity of measurements. It is necessary to single out the limitations for the studies because they allow evaluating the drawbacks of the conducted research and avoid them in future research. Therefore, further study can involve a bigger sample and include a wait-list control condition. Moreover, a comparative study can be conducted to measure the effect of MBMT on the members of the experimental group to that of the control group.

Major Findings

The major findings of the study are as follows. It was discovered that the application of MBMT tool resulted in a substantial improvement of attention of the research participants. Moreover, music proved to be an effective stimuli of attention in passive listening (Lesiuk, 2015). Also, another finding is that MBMT substantially shortened negative mood conditions among women with breast cancer who receive adjuvant chemotherapy. For example, the reduction of conditions of depression, anger, tension, confusion, and fatigue were recorded among the research participants. Some of the participants admitted they felt less stressed and more relaxed after the therapy, and the others admitted improved sleep. Therefore, it can be concluded that the findings answered the research question.

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The results of the study can be considered credible. They were obtained as a result of statistical analysis, which was conducted over the collected material, and the research data were collected with the use of a reliable test. Thus, SPSS software was used for data analysis and ANOVA was applied to evaluate the effect which MBMT has on the attention of the research participants.


On the whole, the research question was answered in the result of the research. The study findings prove the supposition that mindful-based music therapy can be beneficial for the patients diagnosed with breast cancer and receiving adjuvant chemotherapy. Thus, the use of MBMT for patients from the Comprehensive Cancer Center proved to have a positive impact on their attention as well as mood. The research revealed that MBMT has a potential to improve attention and reduce negative mood conditions of patients with breast cancer receiving adjuvant chemotherapy.

The research has some implications for nursing practice. For example, nurses who work with women with breast cancer and receive adjuvant chemotherapy can implement some elementary mindfulness-based music techniques to improve their condition. The use of their favorite music can be beneficial for the mood of the patients. However, there is a necessity to educate nurses on peculiarities of music therapy and a guidance of a music therapist can be needed for facilitating nurses to apply mindful-based music therapy to their patients.

On the whole, the research proves the efficiency of the mindful-based music therapy for breast cancer patients who receive adjuvant chemotherapy. Thus, this tool can be recommended for application in cancer centers to reduce the negative mood conditions of patients and improve their well-being. Still, further research can be necessary involving a bigger sample or comparing the mindful-based music therapy to other complementary therapies.


Jang, S., Kang, S., Lee, H., & Lee, S. (2016). Beneficial effect of mindfulness-based art therapy in patients with breast cancer—A randomized controlled trial. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, 12(5), 333-340.

Lesiuk, T. (2015). The effect of mindfulness-based music therapy on attention and mood in women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer: A pilot study. Oncology Nursing Forum, 42(3), 276-282.

Schellekens, M., van den Hurk, D., Prins, J., Molema, J., Donders, A., Woertman, W., … Speckens, A. (2014). Study protocol of a randomized controlled trial comparing mindfulness-based stress reduction with treatment as usual in reducing psychological distress in patients with lung cancer and their partners: the MILON study. BMC Cancer, 14(3).

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StudyCorgi. (2021, January 3). Music Therapy Effects for Breast Cancer Patients. Retrieved from


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