Title

Is there a difference in self-reported stress between those receiving a scripted imagery intervention with and without music?

Poster Number

2

Lead Author Affiliation

Music Therapy

Lead Author Status

Masters Student

Introduction

Self-regulative skills are needed by adults to combat anxiety in daily life, as this stress may harm the human body in both the short and long term (Gadberry, 2011). In general, stress is said to interrupt important learning processes: in some situations it can cause enough dysfunction as to thwart memory and performance (Mungas, 2011). University students (specifically females) are considered at most risk due to anxiety from expectations of performance in the educational setting (Gadberry, 2011). Students may use any number of ways to cope, some of which may be unhealthy and result in more harm than good. Introducing a safe way to deal with stress using music-assisted relaxation can aid students greatly in lowering their stress levels, and protect their future health (Mungas & Silverman, 2014). The assumption is that the interactive nature of mind and body aid in music-based interventions for stress management and using music paired with imagery is just one diversified way to manage stress (Robb, 2000).

Purpose

College students are prone to experiencing stress in their educational careers which may negatively affect their health and academic performance. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of a live music-assisted relaxation intervention on self-reported stress in college students. This study employed a parallel, pretest/posttest true experimental design. The participants included undergraduate- and graduate-level university students. Instrumentation involved a researcher-constructed Likert Stress Item designed to assess current perceived stress levels. While many studies extoll the virtues of music listening on stress reduction, this study will help contribute to the literature by examining its effects on the college-age population.

Method

Nineteen college students (5 male and 14 female) between the ages of 19 and 28 years volunteered to participate in this study. Recruitment involved announcements via email, classroom announcements, and word of mouth. The researcher presented to two undergraduate classes, one graduate class, and three extra-curricular student organizations. The researcher’s email and phone number were provided to potential participants to allow them to reach out to the researcher independently. Exclusionary criteria included the presence of a mental health disorder or history of auditory or visual hallucinations. Of the 20 participants who responded, 19 completed all study-related activities. There were 15 music therapy majors, 1 music education major, 1 speech-language pathology major, and 2 music performance majors. Following enrollment, participants were each assigned a number for purposes of de-identification and (using this numeric identifier) were randomly assigned to either a treatment (music-assisted relation and script) or control (script only) condition using a computerized random number generator. A 5-point Likert Stress Item was used to assess current perceived stress levels of participants, both before and after treatment was administered and served as the pre- and post-test measure. This Item (along with one red pen and one blue pen) was placed on the music stand in front of the seated participant, who was asked to circle their pre-intervention stress level in red. Once the intervention was completed, the participant was asked to circle their current stress level in blue. The researcher individually engaged each participant in a single, 10-minute session. The interventions (7 minutes of a scripted relaxation and imagery script with and without music) were conducted in a 5’ X 8’ practice room in the Conservatory containing an upright piano, a padded chair to the right of the piano, and a music stand in front of the chair. The music stand held the informed consent form and the Likert Stress Item. After completing informed consent, participants : (1) completed the Likert Stress Item; (2) were exposed to the intervention; and (3) completed the Likert Stress Item post-intervention. Experimental Condition: For the treatment group, the intervention included the investigator playing the piano while reading off the relaxation script (utilizing imagery about the beach) written by the Trauma Center, sponsored by Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance, largely using a pentatonic scale over a I-IV-V chord progression in the key of C#. The tempo used was approximately 60 beats per minute. Control Condition: For the control group, the investigator will read the same relaxation script written by the Trauma Center, sponsored by Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance, without music being played.

Results

To evaluate the comparative change in self-reported stress, participants’ pretest scores were subtracted from their posttest scores to yield change scores, which were used as the dependent variable for this analysis. Before proceeding, the four assumptions for Mann-Whitney U were checked: a) data represent an ordinal level of measurement; b) that there is one independent variable with two groups; c) observations were independent for each group (i.e., participants were not members of more than one group); and d) score distributions for the groups are similar. For this final assumption the researcher calculated a median test which was not significant (p = .07) indicating that the distributions were similar. Subsequently, analysis using Mann-Whitney U indicated that the decrease in self-rated stress was greater for those in the music and script condition (Mdn = 1.25) versus the script only condition (Mdn = 0.5), U = 14.50, p = .011, r = .58. Results suggest that both interventions were effective in that both evidenced a decrease in self-reported stress. Moreover the music-assisted relaxation with the script was more effective than the script alone. The associated effect size indicated that there is some practical significance, and this type of intervention would be effective in lives of students. Limitations of the study include small sample size, and the possibilities of social desirability and researcher effect introducing bias. Instrumentation is also a limitation, as there is no evidence of validity for researcher-developed measure in the current or past studies. Finally, inconsistency was introduced through the live administration of both groups (music-assisted relaxation with script and the script alone), although metronome, script phrasing, and stopwatch were all used. In the future, this may be countered with the use of recorded interventions.

Significance

This work is important, as there is little research that has been conducted regarding this specific population in congruence with these types of music therapy interventions. This results show that there is practical, or clinical significance; meaning, there is a real-life application for students outside of the study. Music-assisted relaxation interventions are affordable, non-pharmacological, and accessible, making it an ideal way for students to cope with stress. This may have a positive impact on students' academic performance, as well as their overall health and wellbeing (both in the present and in the future).

Location

DUC Ballroom A&B

Format

Poster Presentation

Poster Session

Morning

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Apr 29th, 10:00 AM Apr 29th, 12:00 PM

Is there a difference in self-reported stress between those receiving a scripted imagery intervention with and without music?

DUC Ballroom A&B

Self-regulative skills are needed by adults to combat anxiety in daily life, as this stress may harm the human body in both the short and long term (Gadberry, 2011). In general, stress is said to interrupt important learning processes: in some situations it can cause enough dysfunction as to thwart memory and performance (Mungas, 2011). University students (specifically females) are considered at most risk due to anxiety from expectations of performance in the educational setting (Gadberry, 2011). Students may use any number of ways to cope, some of which may be unhealthy and result in more harm than good. Introducing a safe way to deal with stress using music-assisted relaxation can aid students greatly in lowering their stress levels, and protect their future health (Mungas & Silverman, 2014). The assumption is that the interactive nature of mind and body aid in music-based interventions for stress management and using music paired with imagery is just one diversified way to manage stress (Robb, 2000).