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Music Therapy Research in the NICU: An Updated Meta-Analysis

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Purpose: To provide an overview of developmental and medical benefits of music therapy for preterm infants.

Design: Meta-analysis.

Sample: Empirical music studies with preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Main Outcome: Evidence-based NICU music therapy (NICU -MT ) was highly beneficial with an overall large significant effect size (Cohen's d = 0.82). Effects because of music were consistently in a positive direction.

Results: Results of the current analysis replicated findings of a prior meta-analysis and included extended use of music.1 Benefits were greatest for live music therapy (MT ) and for use early in the infant's NICU stay (birth weight <1,000 g, birth postmenstrual age <28 weeks). Results justify strong consideration for the inclusion of the following evidence-based NICU -MT protocols in best practice standards for NICU treatment of preterm infants: music listening for pacification, music reinforcement of sucking, and music pacification as the basis for multilayered, multimodal stimulation.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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