RCR2: Patients’ views on the role of music in the radiotherapy department.

Alison Stillie1,Catriona Baker2,Michael Blayney2,Matilda Coke2,Morven Davies2,Christina Fairley2,Katie Feather2,Rebecca Finch2

1Edinburgh Cancer Centre, Edinburgh, UK,2University of Edinburgh Medical School, Edinburgh, UK

Presenting date: Tuesday 3 November
Presenting time: 13.10-14.00


Whilst non-invasive and painless, radiotherapy (RT) can be distressing for patients1,2. Music is sometimess played in treatment rooms during RT. Several studies have demonstrated a benefit to patients who listen to music during RT. A role for other music therapies in reducing anxiety in hopsital paitients in a variety of situations has been identified3,4. However, effect and efficacy have been shown to vary widely, with some of this effect being attributed to music selection.


A questionnaire was devised and circulated for peer review to several healthcare professional groups involved in the management and support of patient during radiotherapy treatment. These groups included radiographers, treatment floor nurses, and specialist oncology nurses. The questionnaire was amended and distributed to patients in the radiotherapy waiting area by the administration staff over a one week period. Therefore patients completeing the questionnaire were not all attending for their first radiotherapy treatment at the time of data collection. The results were thereafter collated and analysed.


100 questionnaires were circulated; with a completed return rate of 86. Of the 86 patients who returned questionnaires, 56 were female and 30 male. The median age range was 46-64. A small majority of respondents (54%) had listened to music during RT on the day of data collection.  40% had not, the remainder were unable to recall. When asked whether music helped in general when anxious, 62 patients said it did and 22 patients said it didn't. Of the patients who had listened to music during treatement on the day of data collection almost half stated that listening to music during RT improved their experience.  The majority of the remaining patients were ambivalent however 14% stated that it was detrimental to their experience.


The results demonstrate  music is perceived as being beneficial, in reducing anxiety,  in a subset of patients receiving radiotherapy. There are limitations to this small single centre survey including the relatively small sample size and the data collected at varying points in the patient journey .  To draw more robust conclusions the study could be repeated only on a group of patients attending for their first radiotherapy treatment with formal assessment of anxiety levels pre and post treatment.