Use of Palliative Care Music Therapy in a Hospital Setting during COVID-19

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Palliative Care; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Infectious Disease | Music Therapy | Palliative Care | Virus Diseases


As many hospitals scaled back integrative therapies during the COVID-19 pandemic, we instead turned to the multifaceted qualities of music to bridge physical and social divides. In this report, we describe palliative care music therapists as frontline providers utilizing evidence-based approaches to support healing and recovery for patients in the intensive care unit, patient and family care at end of life, and staff wellness. We provide examples of music therapy (MT) to promote successful weaning from mechanical ventilation, create bedside rituals and legacy gifts for dying patients and their families, and provide real-time support for overwhelmed staff. Despite barriers brought on by the pandemic, the sensory and emotional immediacy of music bridged social distances at critical moments and addressed "suffering beyond words" among patients, families and health care workers. Our experience reinforced the need for MT as standard of interdisciplinary care during the pandemic and beyond.


COVID-19, music therapy

DOI of Published Version



Reidy J, MacDonald MC. Use of Palliative Care Music Therapy in a Hospital Setting during COVID-19. J Palliat Med. 2021 Aug 11. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2020.0739. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34382835. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of palliative medicine

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID