Storytelling Through Music to Facilitate Meaning Reconstruction and Address Psychosocial Stress in Oncology Nurses


  • Dr. Carolyn Phillips
  • Dr. Deborah Volker
  • Dr. Barbara Jones



professional grief, psychosocial stress, burnout, meaning-making, music intervention


Frontline healthcare workers are exposed to significant suffering and loss. Recent studies have shown increased rates of depression and suicide among nurses and physicians when compared to the general population. Few clinician well-being interventions focus on increasing the awareness and expression of clinician’s emotions to improve psychosocial well-being. In particular, nurses are at the forefront of cancer care, and studies indicate that they cope with work-related emotions in isolation. Storytelling Through Music is a 6-week intervention that combines storytelling, reflective writing, songwriting, and stress management skills. The parent study was a quasi-experimental design, with 43 oncology nurses in either the intervention group or a non-randomized comparison group. This study evaluates the post-intervention qualitative data from participants in the intervention group (n=22). Content analysis was used for analysis, which revealed the following themes: belonging, finding meaning, and emotional transformation. Participants reported learning they were not alone in the emotional experience, that they were reminded of why they work in oncology, and that hearing their story in song transformed their feelings from sadness to something beautiful. Further, they described that hearing their story reflected back to them in song was deeply moving and provided them with emotional insight.






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