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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2015 May;49(5):836-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2014.09.012. Epub 2014 Nov 14.

Application of therapeutic harp sounds for quality of life among hospitalized patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare, Mayo Health System, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA.
Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.
Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota, USA. Electronic address:



Hospitalized patients experience symptoms including pain and anxiety that may negatively affect their well-being and overall quality of life (QOL), even when medical interventions are deemed successful.


The objective of the study was to assess the efficacy of prescriptive live therapeutic harp sounds on patient symptoms and QOL.


The study was a two-period, two-treatment arm crossover, randomized clinical trial. Individuals were randomized to harp music and standard care for the first 24 hours of the hospital stay, followed by 24 hours of only standard care, or vice versa. The harp intervention was 30-40 minutes of prescriptive live therapeutic harp sounds in the form of solo harp pieces and improvisations. Patients recorded well-being and symptom scores on linear analogue scales. Entry criteria included at least 18 years and a score of 3 or below on a 1-5 linear analogue scale indicating compromised overall QOL.


Ninety-two eligible patients participated in the clinical trial. All the QOL variables had significantly higher percentages of patients with improvements during the harp treatment than during standard care. Five symptoms--fatigue, anxiety, sadness, relaxation, and pain--were significantly improved following therapeutic harp treatment. Approximately 30% to 50% of patients showed a significant increase in the QOL measures after harp treatment.


There is evidence of strong positive effects on the QOL of hospitalized patients who received therapeutic harp sound treatment along with standard care.


Music; clinical trial; crossover; quality of life; therapeutic harp

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