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

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      Anna Karp

      Standley, Jayne, PhD

      Neonatal Network31.5 (Sep/Oct 2012): 311-6.

      Standley, J., PhD. (2012). Music therapy research in the NICU: An updated meta-analysis. Neonatal Network, 31(5), 311-6. Retrieved from

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


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

      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 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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