Implementing music therapy in a Norwegian neonatal intensive care unit


Implementing music therapy in a Norwegian neonatal intensive care unit


Janner C; Söderström Gaden T; Nakstad B; Solevåg AL


Nursing Children and Young People




clinical; neonatal; intensive care; child health; critical care; medicines; infants; research; families; patients; child development; parents; music therapy; professional; complementary therapies; maternal bonding


BACKGROUND: Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) music therapy is an emerging discipline. There is a growing evidence base supporting its use, with an emphasis on the immediate and short-term positive effects on infants' physiological responses and parents' experiences. AIM: To explore the implementation of music therapy aligned with standards of neonatal care and as an integral part of the care routinely provided in a Norwegian NICU. METHOD: Parents of infants hospitalised in the NICU were offered music therapy sessions based on the First Sounds: Rhythm, Breath and Lullaby model. Before discharge from the NICU, parents were asked to complete an electronic survey about their experiences of music therapy. Nurses' feedback and observations were also elicited and collected. FINDINGS: A total of 16 parents completed the survey. Overall, their experiences of music therapy were positive, and they noted several benefits for themselves and their infant. In addition, nurses observed that parents' interactions with their infant increased after participation in music therapy. However, nurses reported it was challenging to invite parents to participate in music therapy at a time of uncertainty, anxiety and grief. Nurses also found it challenging to disseminate information about music therapy to parents from other cultures. Furthermore, it was identified that most parents learned about the music therapy sessions from the music therapist, rather than from NICU medical or nursing staff, which indicates that music therapy was not fully integrated among the unit's multidisciplinary team. CONCLUSION: Music therapy can reinforce family-centred care and promote parent-infant bonding, but additional efforts are required to integrate it into the care routinely provided by the NICU multidisciplinary team.


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Janner C; Söderström Gaden T; Nakstad B; Solevåg AL, “Implementing music therapy in a Norwegian neonatal intensive care unit,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed March 28, 2023,

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