Promoting Patient and Family Engagement by Implementing Therapeutic Music during Hospitalization


  • Ruth Kleinpell
  • Lynn Westhoff
  • Lauren M Ochoa
  • Kelly Maguigan
  • Angela Larson



It is well recognized that music can have an impact on health.  Studies targeting oncology, palliative care, hospice, and post cardiac surgery patients have demonstrated beneficial effects of music on heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, cortisol, pain, and anxiety levels. However, despite the well-known effects, therapeutic music is rarely observed in routine daily practice in the hospital setting. As part of a national collaborative targeting patient and family engagement in the intensive care unit (ICU), 63 teams implemented initiatives including open visitation, integrating families on rounds, establishing a patient and family advisory committee, using patient and family diaries, and music in the ICU, among others. Results from the ICU music initiative demonstrated that family members felt that music in the ICU was helpful, gave them more confidence in the healthcare team, impacted care of patients in the ICU, and helped ease their worry for their family member. Clinicians reported the following findings: that communication with family members improved since having music in the ICU, that patient care had improved, and that music had been beneficial for patients, families and ICU staff.  This article reviews strategies for implementing therapeutic music during hospitalization, highlighting lessons learned from the national collaborative.



Keywords: patient and family engagement, therapeutic music, patient and family centered care, music in the ICU

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