Music therapy and neonatal pain management: An interview with Dr Alexandra Ullsten.
Keywords:music therapy, neonatal care, pain management, procedural support, parental infant-directed singing
Alexandra Ullsten, PhD, works as a music and art therapist, and postdoctoral researcher at the Central Hospital in Karlstad, Region Värmland, Sweden. She is affiliated researcher to the School of Health Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. In 2010, Dr Ullsten pioneered the implementation of neonatal music therapy in Swedish healthcare. The Central Hospital Karlstad neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) became the first hospital and NICU in the Nordic countries to offer a family-centred music therapy programme for hospitalised infants and their parents. Alexandra’s research area concerns family-centred music therapy during painful procedures in neonatal care focusing on parent-delivered pain management such as parental infant-directed singing. She is one of the “grandparents” of Rhythm, Breath, Lullaby NICU Music Therapy (RBL) and a member of the international research network, Pain in Early Life (PEARL). She is the principal investigator of the interdisciplinary multi-centre research project, “Parents as pain management in Swedish neonatal care – SWEpap”. Dr Ullsten graciously agreed to partake in an interview and provide an insight into her research and the role music can play as affective support for infants and their parents during painful procedures in the NICU.