The question investigated was: “does music therapy improve premature infants’ physiologic outcomes in the neonatal intensive care unit?” To identify the key terms the CINAHL Plus with Full Text database was used and the search terms entered were music therapy and premature infants.
The first article reviewed was an updated meta-analysis by Jayne Standley (2012). Standley had completed an initial meta-analysis in 2002 and this was an update on research that had continued on the subject of music therapy in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the decade since. Thirty studies met the author’s criteria for inclusion and were evaluated by independent variable, dependent variable and results (Standley, 2012). Standley (2012) found that overall there were positive benefits of music therapy with significant effects on heart rate, behavior state, oxygen saturation, sucking or feeding ability and length of stay in the NICU. Standley (2012) did state that more long-term research needs to be completed to determine developmental outcomes, but that the results justify the use of music therapy as evidence-based practice in the NICU.
Neal and Lindeke (2008) presented evidence both for and against the use of music therapy in their journal article. Evidence in favor demonstrated improved physiological functioning for preterm infants in the areas of weight gain, oxygen saturation levels, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate (Neal & Lindeke, 2008). Arguments against the use of music therapy include the worry that music could be over-stimulating to premature infants which may cause sensorineural damage leading to later language or auditory processing disorders (Neal & Lindeke, 2008). Neal and Lindeke stated that the studies discouraging the use of music therapy had poor methodology. Evidence is strong for the use of music therapy in the NICU, but much like Standley (2012) showed above, more research with strict scientific methodology still needs to be completed in this area.
The final article was an integrative literature review by Hodges and Wilson (2010). They reviewed 35 studies and gave a brief synopsis related to several different areas of the effects of recorded music on preterm infants. Hodges and Wilson (2010) reviewed studies on the effects of music on oxygen saturation, heart rate, blood pressure and...