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Music therapy for people with substance use disorders

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posted on 2023-07-26, 15:52 authored by Claire Ghetti, Xi-Jing Chen, Annette K. Brenner, Laurien G. Hakvoort, Lars Lien, Jörg C. Fachner, Christian Gold
Background- Substance use disorder (SUD) is the continued use of one or more psychoactive substances, including alcohol, despite negative effects on health, functioning, and social relations. Problematic drug use has increased by 10% globally since 2013, and harmful use of alcohol is associated with 5.3% of all deaths. Direct effects of music therapy (MT) on problematic substance use are not known, but it may be helpful in alleviating associated psychological symptoms and decreasing substance craving. Objectives- To compare the effect of music therapy (MT) in addition to standard care versus standard care alone, or to standard care plus an active control intervention, on psychological symptoms, substance craving, motivation for treatment, and motivation to stay clean/sober. Search methods- We searched the following databases (from inception to 1 February 2021): the Cochrane Drugs and Alcohol Specialised Register; CENTRAL; MEDLINE (PubMed); eight other databases, and two trials registries. We handsearched reference lists of all retrieved studies and relevant systematic reviews. Selection criteria- We included randomised controlled trials comparing MT plus standard care to standard care alone, or MT plus standard care to active intervention plus standard care for people with SUD. Data collection and analysis- We used standard Cochrane methodology. Main results- We included 21 trials involving 1984 people. We found moderate‐certainty evidence of a medium effect favouring MT plus standard care over standard care alone for substance craving (standardised mean difference (SMD) –0.66, 95% confidence interval (CI) –1.23 to –0.10; 3 studies, 254 participants), with significant subgroup differences indicating greater reduction in craving for MT intervention lasting one to three months; and small‐to‐medium effect favouring MT for motivation for treatment/change (SMD 0.41, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.61; 5 studies, 408 participants). We found no clear evidence of a beneficial effect on depression (SMD –0.33, 95% CI –0.72 to 0.07; 3 studies, 100 participants), or motivation to stay sober/clean (SMD 0.22, 95% CI –0.02 to 0.47; 3 studies, 269 participants), though effect sizes ranged from large favourable effect to no effect, and we are uncertain about the result. There was no evidence of beneficial effect on anxiety (mean difference (MD) –0.17, 95% CI –4.39 to 4.05; 1 study, 60 participants), though we are uncertain about the result. There was no meaningful effect for retention in treatment for participants receiving MT plus standard care as compared to standard care alone (risk ratio (RR) 0.99, 95% 0.93 to 1.05; 6 studies, 199 participants). There was a moderate effect on motivation for treatment/change when comparing MT plus standard care to another active intervention plus standard care (SMD 0.46, 95% CI –0.00 to 0.93; 5 studies, 411 participants), and certainty in the result was moderate. We found no clear evidence of an effect of MT on motivation to stay sober/clean when compared to active intervention, though effect sizes ranged from large favourable effect to no effect, and we are uncertain about the result (MD 0.34, 95% CI –0.11 to 0.78; 3 studies, 258 participants). There was no clear evidence of effect on substance craving (SMD –0.04, 95% CI –0.56 to 0.48; 3 studies, 232 participants), depression (MD –1.49, 95% CI –4.98 to 2.00; 1 study, 110 participants), or substance use (RR 1.05, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.29; 1 study, 140 participants) at one‐month follow‐up when comparing MT plus standard care to active intervention plus standard care. There were no data on adverse effects. Unclear risk of selection bias applied to most studies due to incomplete description of processes of randomisation and allocation concealment. All studies were at unclear risk of detection bias due to lack of blinding of outcome assessors for subjective outcomes (mostly self‐report). We judged that bias arising from such lack of blinding would not differ between groups. Similarly, it is not possible to blind participants and providers to MT. We consider knowledge of receiving this type of therapy as part of the therapeutic effect itself, and thus all studies were at low risk of performance bias for subjective outcomes. We downgraded all outcomes one level for imprecision due to optimal information size not being met, and two levels for outcomes with very low sample size. Authors' conclusions- Results from this review suggest that MT as 'add on' treatment to standard care can lead to moderate reductions in substance craving and can increase motivation for treatment/change for people with SUDs receiving treatment in detoxification and short‐term rehabilitation settings. Greater reduction in craving is associated with MT lasting longer than a single session. We have moderate‐to‐low confidence in our findings as the included studies were downgraded in certainty due to imprecision, and most included studies were conducted by the same researcher in the same detoxification unit, which considerably impacts the transferability of findings.



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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews





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