Family members' views on the benefits of harp music vigils for terminally-ill or dying loved ones

Linda Ganzini, Alexa Rakoski, Sharilyn Cohn, Richard A. Mularski

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Scopus citations


    Objectives: Music-thanatology is a palliative modality that uses harp and voice to provide bedside vigils, particularly for terminally ill or actively dying. We sought to determine the benefits of music vigils for terminally ill patients. Methods: Survey of 55 family members, whose terminally ill loved one experienced a music vigil during hospitalization, regarding effects on the patient's breathing, relaxation, comfort, pain and ability to sleep. Written comments on negative and positive results of the vigils were coded using content analysis. Results: Family members perceived that the vigils resulted in modest improvement in the patients' breathing, relaxation, comfort, and ability to sleep, with fewer positive effects on pain, and almost no negative effects. Open ended comments focused on the positive benefit in increasing calm, relaxation, comfort. Comments on the positive effects for the family were almost as common as comments on the positive results for the patient. Significance of Results: The use of music-vigils in palliative care should be investigated more extensively as our study supports that this intervention has benefits, almost no risk, minimal cost, and may improve patient-family experience of the dying process.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)41-44
    Number of pages4
    JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Feb 13 2014


    • Music
    • dyspnea
    • family
    • palliative care
    • spirituality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Nursing(all)
    • Clinical Psychology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health


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