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Article

Creative Music Therapy with Premature Infants and Their Parents: A Mixed-Method Pilot Study on Parents’ Anxiety, Stress and Depressive Symptoms and Parent–Infant Attachment

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Department of Neonatology, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich, Frauenklinikstrasse 10, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland
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Department of Clinical Music Therapy, Zurich University of the Arts, Pfingstweidstrasse 96, 8005 Zurich, Switzerland
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Department of Neonatology and Pediatric Intensive Care, Children’s University Hospital of Zurich, Steinwiesstrasse 75, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland
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Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Zurich, Binzmuehlestrasse 14/Box 26, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland
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Psychology Research and Counselling Institute for Sexuality, Marriage and Family, International Academy for Human Sciences and Culture, Staadweg 3, P.O. Box 57, 8880 Walenstadt, Switzerland
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Department of Psychological Methods, Evaluation and Statistics, University of Zurich, Binzmuehlestrasse 14/Box 27, 8050 Zurich, Switzerland
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Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Medical University, Auenbruggerplatz/38/III. OG, 8036 Graz, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors share first authorship.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(1), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010265
Received: 28 November 2020 / Revised: 27 December 2020 / Accepted: 29 December 2020 / Published: 31 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anxiety, Depression and Stress in Pregnancy: Effects of Women)
Premature birth is stressful for infants and parents and can adversely affect the parent–infant dyad. This mixed-methods pilot study evaluates whether creative music therapy (CMT) can alleviate anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms in parents and support the bonding process with their infant. Sixteen parent couples were included. Ten couples were randomly allocated to the music therapy group (MTG) and six to the control group (CG). All couples completed psychological questionnaires measuring anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as an implicit measure of parent–infant attachment at two weeks postpartum (T1), at approximate neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalization halftime (T2), and two weeks after the infant had been discharged (T3). At T1 and T2, the parents additionally completed a questionnaire assessing the degree of stress they experienced at the NICU. Qualitative data were collected through a semi-structured, problem-centered interview with MTG parents at T3. The results of the quantitative analyses revealed reductions in anxiety levels from T1 to T2 (p = 0.002) as well as decreases in depressive symptoms from T2 to T3 (p = 0.022). No such changes were apparent in the CG. In fact, parental stress increased from T1 to T2 (p = 0.016). Significant increases in attachment across time were also observed within the MTG, but not in the CG. The qualitative inquiry confirmed that CMT can support the parent–infant relationship. Being in musical interaction evoked feelings of joy and relaxation in the parents and encouraged them to interact more profoundly with their infant. The results call for a more extensive powered follow-up study to further investigate CMT’s potential for parental well-being and parent–infant bonding. View Full-Text
Keywords: music therapy; NICU; prematurity; postnatal anxiety; postnatal stress; attachment music therapy; NICU; prematurity; postnatal anxiety; postnatal stress; attachment
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kehl, S.M.; La Marca-Ghaemmaghami, P.; Haller, M.; Pichler-Stachl, E.; Bucher, H.U.; Bassler, D.; Haslbeck, F.B. Creative Music Therapy with Premature Infants and Their Parents: A Mixed-Method Pilot Study on Parents’ Anxiety, Stress and Depressive Symptoms and Parent–Infant Attachment. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 265. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010265

AMA Style

Kehl SM, La Marca-Ghaemmaghami P, Haller M, Pichler-Stachl E, Bucher HU, Bassler D, Haslbeck FB. Creative Music Therapy with Premature Infants and Their Parents: A Mixed-Method Pilot Study on Parents’ Anxiety, Stress and Depressive Symptoms and Parent–Infant Attachment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(1):265. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010265

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kehl, Selina M., Pearl La Marca-Ghaemmaghami, Marina Haller, Elisabeth Pichler-Stachl, Hans U. Bucher, Dirk Bassler, and Friederike B. Haslbeck 2021. "Creative Music Therapy with Premature Infants and Their Parents: A Mixed-Method Pilot Study on Parents’ Anxiety, Stress and Depressive Symptoms and Parent–Infant Attachment" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 1: 265. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010265

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