Music Therapy during Preterm Infant Retinopathy of Prematurity Screenings

Thumbnail Image
Leonard, Kate
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) screenings are routine procedures that are consistently described as stressful for preterm infants; however, research on how to reduce infant distress during this procedure is limited. The purpose of this experimental study was to determine the effect of music therapy on infant distress responses during ROP screenings in a Level III NICU setting, as well as to compare how the use of music therapy affected caregivers’ perceptions of the screening experience. Participants in the experimental group were presented with the music therapist singing a lullaby in English or Spanish, while trained staff members video recorded both the infant and the monitor. Following the exam, caregivers (n = 4) were given a survey, in which they rated their experience on a Likert scale. The music therapist later reviewed the videos and scored participants (n = 15) in both the control and experimental groups according to the PIPP-R. The outcome of this study suggests that music therapy does not significantly reduce infant distress during ROP screenings (p = 0.452); however, several limitations may have contributed to this result. The results also suggest that caregivers who experienced music therapy perceived that their infant and the staff were less stressed and both caregivers answered that they would request music therapy for future screenings; however, these results could not be determined to be significant due to the small sample size. This researcher offers multiple suggestions for future research, including collecting data from a larger sample size and determining the effect of music therapy on staff and caregiver stress.