University Hospitals Researcher Receives NIH Award to Study Real-World Effectiveness of Music Therapy in Medical Care
September 21, 2023
CLEVELAND – A researcher with University Hospitals (UH) Connor Whole Health has received a fellowship award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the impact of music therapy on patients in the hospital.
Sam Rodgers-Melnick, MPH, MT-BC, an Integrative Health Research & Data Specialist with UH Connor Whole Health and doctoral student in the Clinical Translational Science Program at the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine, received a F31 Predoctoral Fellowship Award from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a division of the NIH.
With the two-year, $95,388 award, Rodgers-Melnick will leverage electronic health record (EHR) data to investigate how effective music therapy is in addressing patients’ needs throughout 10 medical centers in the UH health system.
UH Connor Whole Health manages the nation’s largest health system-based music therapy program, with 11 board-certified music therapists who collaborate with providers across the system to help patients and their families manage the physical and emotional toll of an illness or hospitalization.
“Real-world effectiveness research is a crucial step in aiding our understanding of how the arts impact health,” said Seneca Block, MA, MT-BC, The Lauren Rich Fine Endowed Director of Expressive Therapies at UH Connor Whole Health. “As a systemwide program, UH Connor Whole Health music therapists provide a tremendous service by implementing frontline care that supports both physiological and psychological vulnerabilities faced by critically ill patients. This level of research is able to take place thanks to the combined efforts of these clinical providers.”
Through this F31 proposal, entitled Developing Real-world Understanding of Medical Music therapy using the Electronic Health Record (DRUMMER), Rodgers-Melnick will use a novel dataset of more than 30,000 music therapy sessions provided to more than 15,000 patients.
This F31 Fellowship will:
- Investigate which patient and/or music therapy session characteristics are associated with changes in patient-reported outcome measures (i.e., stress, pain, anxiety, and coping);
- Compare utilization outcomes (i.e., length of stay and medications administered for pain and anxiety) and longitudinal pain intensity scores between inpatients receiving music therapy and propensity score matched controls;
- Examine the longitudinal effects on patient-reported outcome measures among patients receiving music therapy over the course of their hospital admissions.
“This study has so much clinical and public-health relevance because it will help us better understand how non-pharmacologic interventions may be better leveraged to manage pain and anxiety—and it does so with an unprecedentedly large and robust data set, whose creation Sam has orchestrated,” said Johnie Rose, MD, PhD, who serves as a sponsor for Rodgers-Melnick’s F31.
In addition to leveraging statistical methods, including regression models, propensity score matching, and longitudinal mixed effects models, Rodgers-Melnick’s proposal will also make use of Electronic Medical Record Search Engine (EMERSE), a platform that allows for the rapid search of more than 46 million clinical notes within the UH EHR.
“The NIH has recognized that Sam is a trailblazer. His work is real and impactful,” added Francoise Adan, MD, Chief Whole Health and Well-Being Officer for UH and Director of UH Connor Whole Health.
Over his decade-long career at UH Connor, Rodgers-Melnick has led multiple research initiatives through the generous support of the Kulas Foundation, a leading private foundation in Cleveland dedicated to advancing scientific research in music therapy.
Through this fellowship, Rodgers-Melnick will gain skills and experience needed to conduct future practice-based clinical effectiveness research, not only in music therapy, but across multiple integrative therapies (e.g., acupuncture and massage) deployed within health systems.
“The results from this work will strengthen the evidence base for integrative therapies and guide implementation of nonpharmacologic pain management modalities,” said Dr. Adan. “As health systems develop EHR-based quality improvement tools and implement nonpharmacologic pain modalities, Sam’s findings will be especially important for understanding the real-world impact of integrative health and medicine modalities and improving evidence-based patient care.”
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health of the NIH under Award Number F31AT012592. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.