Exploring the feasibility of a music-assisted relaxation intervention to assist with the initiation of non-invasive ventilation in people with Motor Neuron Disease


  • Jeanette Tamplin University of Melbourne
  • Felicity A Baker University of Melbourne
  • Rebecca Davies Calvary Health Care Bethlehem
  • Eleanor Bajo Calvary Health Care Bethlehem
  • Karen Bolger Calvary Health Care Bethlehem
  • Nicole Sheers Victorian Respiratory Support Service, Austin Health
  • David Berlowitz Victorian Respiratory Support Service, Austin Health




Background: Transitioning to non-invasive ventilation (NIV) can cause anxiety in people with Motor Neuron Disease (MND), which may reduce adherence rates. Music therapy has demonstrated positive effects with mechanical (invasive) ventilation.

Method: This feasibility study examined the effects of music-assisted relaxation (MAR) on NIV adherence, anxiety, and quality of life for people with MND. Data were collected at baseline, 7-days post, and 3-months post NIV implementation.

Results: Of 18 consenting participants, 15 chose the MAR condition. Results suggested that supporting NIV transition within the first 7 days may be advantageous for long-term adherence. No effects were found for anxiety or quality of life. Limitations included small sample size, lack of an adequate control, and possible ceiling effects on the instruments used. Qualitative data indicated most participants considered the relaxing and distracting effects of MAR were useful.

Conclusions: In this small sample, we found some demand for and acceptability of a music-based intervention in this setting. Participants reported differing experiences of using MAR, and there were technical and logistical issues regarding timely and accessible provision of a MAR intervention within the treatment trajectory of NIV implementation. Conflicting quantitative and qualitative data support the need for mixed method research in this area.

Author Biographies

Jeanette Tamplin, University of Melbourne

Dr Jeanette Tamplin PhD, M.Mus, B.Mus (Hons), RMT, holds an NHRMC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowship at the University of Melbourne and works as a music therapist at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre - Austin Health.

Felicity A Baker, University of Melbourne

Professor Felicity Baker is a music therapy researcher and Associate Dean (Academic) at The University of Melbourne.

Rebecca Davies, Calvary Health Care Bethlehem

Rebecca Davies is a Music Therapist and Research Officer at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem.

Eleanor Bajo, Calvary Health Care Bethlehem

Eleanor Bajo is a Music Therapist at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem.

Karen Bolger, Calvary Health Care Bethlehem

Karen Bolger has a clinical background in music therapy and is the Psychosocial Support Services Manager at Calvary Health Care Bethlehem.

Nicole Sheers, Victorian Respiratory Support Service, Austin Health

Nicole Sheers is a senior respiratory physiotherapist at the Victorian Respiratory Support Service, Austin Health.

David Berlowitz, Victorian Respiratory Support Service, Austin Health

Dr David Berlowitz is a Respiratory Physiotherapist and the Chief Executive at the Institute for Breathing and Sleep in Melbourne, Australia.  



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