Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Music therapy in UK palliative and end-of-life care: a service evaluation
  1. Lisa Graham-Wisener1,
  2. Grace Watts2,
  3. Jenny Kirkwood3,
  4. Craig Harrison1,
  5. Joan McEwan1,
  6. Sam Porter4,
  7. Joanne Reid5 and
  8. Tracey Helena McConnell6
  1. 1 Research, Marie Curie Hospice Belfast, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 British Association for Music Therapy, London, UK
  3. 3 Everyday Harmony, Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust, Belfast, UK
  4. 4 Department of Social Work and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK
  5. 5 School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  6. 6 School of Social Science, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lisa Graham-Wisener, Marie Curie Hospice Belfast, Belfast BT56NF, UK; lisa.graham{at}


Music therapy aligns to the holistic approach to palliative and end-of-life care (PEOLC), with an emergent evidence base reporting positive effect on a range of health-related outcomes for both patient and family carer alongside high client demand. However, the current service provision and the role of music therapists in supporting individuals receiving PEOLC in the UK is currently unknown.

Objectives This service evaluation aims to identify the provision, role and perceived impact of UK music therapists in supporting patients receiving PEOLC, their families and health and social care professionals.

Methods A survey was distributed to the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) member mailing list in July 2017. BAMT is the professional body for Health and Care Professions Council registered music therapists in the UK.

Results Fifty respondents identified themselves as music therapists currently working with clients receiving PEOLC. The respondents largely reported (84.7%) less than 10 years of experience working in PEOLC settings, with only a minority receiving statutory funding for their role. Music therapists most commonly reported supporting adults with neurological conditions, cancers and dementia.

Conclusions Although promising that evidence suggests provision of music therapy in UK PEOLC settings in the past 10 years to have increased, lack of sustainable funding suggests the role to not be consistently accessible in PEOLC.

  • complementary therapy
  • psychological care
  • hospice care
  • quality of life
  • service evaluation
  • supportive care

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors All authors contributed to the conception or design of the experiment(s) or collection and analysis or interpretation of data; drafting the manuscript or revising its intellectual content as well as giving final approval of the version submitted.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.