Disparities in racial pain make managing cancer symptoms difficult. Due to music’s multicultural presence, music therapy has been shown to be effective in treating pain and is a promising therapeutic choice for a variety of demographics. Black cancer patients were underrepresented in trials using music therapy, nevertheless. For a study, researchers assessed the degree of pain, the kind of treatments used, and how Black and White cancer patients responded to music therapy. In order to address racial differences in pain treatment, the results were utilized to create hypotheses for further music therapy research.

An NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center provided music therapy to Black and White patients, and they evaluated the program retrospectively. To evaluate pain, they applied the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS). From the electronic health record, they extracted information on opioid use, music therapy referral factors, and treatment strategies.

A total of 358 individuals got opioids, 42% of whom experienced moderate to severe pain, and 18% of whom were Black. Although equal percentages of Black and White patients got opioids, Black patients reported higher baseline pain than White patients. Greater percentages of Black patients engaged in active approaches (92% vs. 82%, P=0.04) and got referrals for music therapy for pain (73% vs. 56%, P=0.04). Following music therapy, both black and white patients reported clinically significant pain reductions of comparable size. During music therapy, black patients talked about spirituality more frequently than white patients, who were more interested in familial ties.

Patients of both races saw clinically significant pain relief thanks to various music therapy techniques. The research may contribute to cultural music therapy modifications that address racial pain inequalities in cancer.

Reference: jpsmjournal.com/article/S0885-3924(22)00825-9/fulltext