Open Access Research article

Perceived outcomes of music therapy with Body Tambura in end of life care – a qualitative pilot study

Michael Teut1*, Cordula Dietrich3, Bernhard Deutz4, Nadine Mittring1 and Claudia M Witt12

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Luisenstr. 57, Berlin 10117, Germany

2 Institute for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

3 Medical practice for psychotherapy, musictherapy and relaxationtherapy, Käthe-Niederkirchner-Straße 5, Berlin 10407, Germany

4 Klangwerkstatt, Christburger Straße 31, Berlin 10405, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Palliative Care 2014, 13:18  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-13-18

Published: 7 April 2014



In recent years, music therapy is increasingly used in palliative care. The aim of this pilot study was to record and describe the subjective experiences of patients and their relatives undergoing music therapy with a Body Tambura in a German hospice and to develop hypotheses for future studies.


In a qualitative interview pilot study, data collection and analyses were performed according to the methodological framework of grounded theory. We included German-speaking patients, or relatives of patients, receiving end of life care in an inpatient hospice setting.


11 persons consisting of 8 patients (age range 51–82 years, 4 male and 4 female) and 3 relatives were treated and interviewed. All patients suffered from cancer in an advanced stage. The most often described subjective experiences were a relaxing and calming effect, sensations that the body feels lighter, and the generation of relaxing images and visualizations. Family members enjoyed listening to the music and felt more connected with the sick family member.


Patient reported beneficial aspects. The small sample size could be seen as a limitation. Assessment instruments measuring relaxation, stress, quality of life and should be included in future quantitative studies.