The Stress Management Program that Reduces Chronic Neck Pain, Intensity & Disability

In a pilot study, researchers from Copenhagen University, Denmark, and The Grieg Academy of Music Therapy Research Center in Bergen, Norway,  examined the effects of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), a specific technique, created by Helen Bonny, that includes relaxation, music listening, and observing the resulting, spontaneous imagery that arises from the music, on bio-psycho-social measures of stress related to long term sick leave...

Twenty Danish workers on sick leave were randomized to either a music therapy intervention or wait-list control.  Data collection was carried out at an occupational health ward in the period 2008-2010.

The study measured changes in salivary cortisol, testosterone, and melatonin, and self-reported data were collected on psychological stress symptoms (perceived stress, mood disturbance, sleep quality, physical distress symptoms, work readiness, well-being, anxiety, depression, immediate stress).

Results showed significant beneficial effects with GIM after nine weeks in the intervention group, as compared to the wait-list control condition, with large effect sizes found in well-being, mood disturbance, and physical distress; and medium effect size in cortisol concentrations.

Other comparisons of the timing of when the GIM was introduced suggested the earlier the better; there was faster job return and significantly improved perceived stress, well-being, mood disturbance, depression, anxiety, and physical distress symptoms, with early intervention.

In the whole sample, 83% of the participants had returned to work at nine weeks' follow-up. Although this was a small sample and therefore more prone to statistical distortion, these results indicate that GIM is a promising treatment for work-related chronic stress, and further studies are recommended.

Citation: Beck BD, Hansen ÅM, Gold C. Coping with Work-Related Stress through Guided Imagery and Music (GIM): Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Music Therapy. 2015 Fall;52 (3): pp.323-52. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thv011. Epub 2015 Sep 30.

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