Objectivist and Constructivist Music Therapy Research in Oncology and Palliative Care: An Overview and Reflection

Clare O'Callaghan


Objectivist and constructivist music therapy research in oncology and palliative care since 1983 is detailed, and the meaningfulness of evidence gathered is consid- ered. Objectivist approaches are informed by positivism and commonly use experimental, hypothetically driven methodologies incorporating researcher-designed measures. Constructivist approaches are informed by varied theoretical frameworks (e.g., postmodernism, phenomenology) and commonly aim to understand participants’ subjective experiences. Methodologies include grounded theory, ethnography, and discourse analysis. Both research approaches have uncovered varied and evolutionary understandings about how music therapy can help people deal with loss and main- tain life quality when affected by life-threatening and end-stage illnesses. Furthermore, constructivism and palliative care are compatible in that both focus on understanding individualized and multiple interpreta- tions of experience. It is contended that objectivist and constructivist research will never be able to capture an absolute ‘‘truth’’ about music therapy’s effectiveness; however, findings from both approaches can be con- ceptually generalized to comparable clinical contexts.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.47513/mmd.v1i1.279


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by The International Association for Music & Medicine