Music-thanatology is a palliative modality that uses harp and voice to provide bedside vigils, particularly for terminally ill or actively dying. We sought to determine the benefits of music vigils for terminally ill patients.
Survey of 55 family members, whose terminally ill loved one experienced a music vigil during hospitalization, regarding effects on the patient's breathing, relaxation, comfort, pain and ability to sleep. Written comments on negative and positive results of the vigils were coded using content analysis.
Family members perceived that the vigils resulted in modest improvement in the patients' breathing, relaxation, comfort, and ability to sleep, with fewer positive effects on pain, and almost no negative effects. Open ended comments focused on the positive benefit in increasing calm, relaxation, comfort. Comments on the positive effects for the family were almost as common as comments on the positive results for the patient.
The use of music-vigils in palliative care should be investigated more extensively as our study supports that this intervention has benefits, almost no risk, minimal cost, and may improve patient-family experience of the dying process.
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