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Hypnosis and music interventions for anxiety, pain, sleep and well-being in palliative care: systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Josiane Bissonnette1,2,
  2. Emilie Dumont3,
  3. Anne-Marie Pinard4,5,
  4. Mathieu Landry6,
  5. Pierre Rainville7,8 and
  6. David Ogez1,9
  1. 1Department of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  2. 2Faculty of Music, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada
  3. 3Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  4. 4Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada
  5. 5Centre intégré de recherche en réadaptation et intégration sociale (CIRRIS), CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, Québec, Québec, Canada
  6. 6Departement of Psychology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  7. 7Department of Stomatology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  8. 8Research Center, Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (CRIUGM), Montréal, Québec, Canada
  9. 9Research Center, Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (CR-HMR), Montréal, Québec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Josiane Bissonnette, Department of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, H3T 1J4, Canada; josiane.bissonnette.1{at}


Background Maintaining quality of life is a primary goal of palliative care (PC). Complementary interventions can help meet the needs of patients at the end of life.

Objectives This meta-analysis aims to (1) evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and fidelity of music and hypnosis interventions designed for patients in PC and (2) evaluate the impact of these interventions on pain, anxiety, sleep and well-being.

Methods Relevant studies were sourced from major databases. We selected both randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and studies relying on pre–post design with details of the intervention(s).

Results Four RCT and seven non-randomised pre–post studies met the inclusion criteria. Overall, the feasibility and acceptability of the interventions reached an adequate level of satisfaction. However, only three studies reported using a written protocol. The meta-analysis of RCT indicated a significant decrease in pain with an effect size of −0.42, p=0.003. The small number of RCT studies did not allow us to quantify the effects for other variables. Analyses of data from pre–post designs indicated a favourable outcome for pain, anxiety, sleep and well-being.

Conclusion Despite the limited number of studies included in our meta-analysis, hypnosis and music intervention in the context of PC shows promising results in terms of feasibility and acceptability, as well as improvements on pain, anxiety, sleep and well-being. The available studies are insufficient to compare the efficacy across interventions and assess the potential benefits of their combinations. These results underscore the importance of further research on well-described complementary interventions relying on hypnosis and music.

PROSPERO registration number CRD-42021236610.

  • complementary therapy
  • pain
  • psychological care
  • quality of life
  • supportive care

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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  • Contributors JB planned the systematic review, conducted the literature search, selected the articles according to the established criteria, performed the descriptive analysis, the bias and the statistical analyses, drafted and revised the paper. She is the guarantor. ED participated in the literature search, selected the articles, performed the bias analyses, and revised the paper. ML and A-MP participated in the design of the article and revised the draft paper. PR and DO planned the research design, participated to the statistical data analysis, participated to the inter-rater agreement, and drafted and critically revised the paper. They are in equal parts, senior supervisors of JB.

  • Funding This work was supported by Mitacs no. IT25481 in partnership with Recherche-Interventions Cétosia and through the funds of the lecturers of Laval University.

  • Competing interests This article was completed as part of a Mitacs funded postdoctoral fellowship. To be eligible for this grant, the candidate had to be both an intern and part of the company. Conflict of interest controls are in place at the business incubator that supervises JB.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.