NCCIH Introduces Music-Based Intervention Toolkit


The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) recently announced a new web-based resource for future music-based intervention (MBI) research.

In a post on the NCCIH Research Blog, Emmeline Edwards, PhD, director of the NCCIH Division of Extramural Research, and Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke, PhD, a program director at the NIA, said the development of The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Music-Based Intervention Toolkit is part of the NIH's mission to advance the field of MBI.

“NIH is committed to developing standards and tools that can be applied to MBI studies and strengthen the field,” the blog post read. “To achieve this goal, NIH gathered input from interdisciplinary expert panels comprising neuroscientists, music therapy and music medicine professionals, behavioral intervention researchers, clinical trial methodologists, and patient advocacy and arts-based organization representatives to create the Toolkit for research on music and health across the lifespan.”

Preliminary research suggests that MBIs may benefit patients of all ages suffering from several health conditions. However, according to Edwards and St. Hillaire-Clarke, few studies have led to definite conclusions.

Particularly promising is MBI’s effects on brain disorders of aging. The toolkit’s introduction explains that there is evidence indicating that music may aid in strengthening brain networks and pathways involved in many of the brain's domains associated with brain disorders of aging, such as sensory and motor processes and memory.

MBI, the toolkit suggests, may represent a cheaper, less invasive, and more accessible therapeutic option for brain disorders of aging compared to traditional pharmacological approaches. To encourage more research into the field, the toolkit provides investigators with a foundation for future studies of MBI on all ages and conditions. According to Edwards and St. Hillaire-Clarke, the toolkit includes broad guidelines and recommendations, consolidated data elements for MBI protocols, functional outcomes measures, and biomarkers that can be applied to specific studies.

“While studies have shown promise, there is still a lot of work to be done to build the evidence base before we can definitively make conclusions about music’s effects on the brain and body,” the blog post concluded. “We are very hopeful that the MBI Toolkit will help toward this goal and highly encourage researchers to use this new resource as they develop their grant applications.”