Improving Access and Quality: Music Therapy Research 2025 Executive Summary and Conclusions
- October 7, 2015
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) convened an historic and innovative research symposium, “Improving Access and Quality: Music Therapy Research 2025” (MTR2025), July 16-18, 2015. This visionary symposium was designed to recommend guidance for future research in music therapy and was made possible by a generous donation from David’s Fund and Tom and Lucy Ott. MTR2025 is tied to AMTA’s long-standing Strategic Priority on Research. The symposium represents an important event and is part of a larger and ongoing initiative to grow access to and quality of research in music therapy.
MTR2025 was structured to foster dialogue and to embrace diversity in thinking, approaches to practice, and methodologies. See Appendix A for the Symposium Agenda. AMTA was proud to sponsor this unique opportunity to bring the myriad members of the music therapy community together to collaboratively explore our research future. At the opening keynote panel, the Editors of AMTA’s peer-reviewed journals, Drs. Meadows and Robb aptly noted:
When viewed as a whole, music therapy research has moved through several important stages of development, characterized by differentiation and integration of philosophies and perspectives that parallel changes occurring in the broader national health research community, including an emphasis on diverse methodologies. Central to advancing the science and practice of music therapy is finding ways to develop and integrate this knowledge across these research cultures, while meeting both internal and external demands for research that demonstrates improvements in quality and access to care.
The Keynote topics and speakers included:
- “Importance of Research for Improving Access and Quality,” Pamela Hinds, RN, PhD, FAAN, Associate Center Director, Center for Translational Science, Children’s Research Institute; Director, Nursing Research and Quality Outcomes, Children’s National™
- “Cultures of Inquiry in Music Therapy and Research and the Changing Landscape of Knowledge Generation and Implementation,” Sheri Robb, PhD, MT-BC and Tony Meadows, PhD, MT-BC.
The Symposium agenda benefitted from input garnered through a broad and diverse group of dedicated and enthusiastic individuals including clinicians, educators, students, and researchers. Four panel presentations helped set the tone and provided background context for the participant and small group discussions, and working groups.
- Panel One. Music Therapy Research Needs: In advance of the symposium informal surveys/interviews were conducted with clinicians and educators. A summary of findings was followed by exploration of how the research process grows and evolves in music therapy practice. Panelists highlighted the important questions, potential impact, and interplay of theories, methods, and approaches.
- Panel Two. Policy Imperatives: This panel discussed the impact of research on Music Therapy recognition, access, and funding. AMTA’s government relations perspective was represented regarding future music therapy research as it informs policy imperatives. The presentation summarized input from a variety of colleagues outside of music therapy regarding the role and use of research in policy-making and advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels.
- Panel Three. Considerations for Future Research in Selected Clinical Topics: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias, and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) were selected to highlight opportunities for future research. These topics involve large segments of practicing music therapists and have been identified by policy-makers and funders as areas where research findings impact policy and funding. Each topic leader outlined considerations for future research in music therapy, drawing from the literature and knowledge of trends in current music therapy practice. Respondents added commentary and supplemental remarks.
- Panel Four. Research Capacity Building: Infrastructure, Education, and Training: Panelists offered conceptual ideas and factors for consideration regarding research capacity building for two major topics: a) research infrastructure and b) music therapy education and training. In addition to the perspectives of educators, the perspectives of clinicians and intern supervisors were presented because of their importance to the dialogue and to the unique set of challenges and needs of practicing clinician-scholars.
Recommendations by Topic
Six breakout groups convened in which participants discussed topics related to Panels Two, Three, and Four, responded to a set of questions, and generated 42 recommendations.
Policy Imperatives [11 recommendations]
- Define and describe the intervention using accepted standards of specification in published research and as part of research planning. When planning a research study, the music therapy intervention needs to be identified and specified by intervention and not just by the term “music therapy.”
- Conduct music therapy studies that focus on specific interventions for specific diagnoses/conditions. Numerous past published studies have commingled populations and conditions, especially in group music therapy settings. In order to prepare to ask for Medicare coverage of specific interventions/procedures, future research needs to examine (isolate) the research for one particular intervention for one particular diagnosis.
- List the ICD-10 diagnosis of the research participants to help link the benefit of a particular intervention to a particular diagnosis.
- Present a research briefing on Capitol Hill and include a famous spokesperson to headline to attract key legislators and staff to attend.
- Partner with the health sciences field to conduct research, encourage team science, and secure lines of funding.
- Recommend the creation and addition of a policy section to Music Therapy Perspectives.
- Commission white papers on all populations for which there is a substantial body of research evidence. White papers could be written by population work groups with teams of clinicians and researchers.
- Recommend research prioritizing the following clinical areas: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dementia, TBI and ABI
- Create a research document for each population for the purpose of advocacy. This is envisioned as a fairly simple document that is specifically geared toward legislators and policy makers.
- Partner with researchers and/or economists qualified to support cost effectiveness and economic studies. For example, analyses recommended include the following areas:
- A study in dementia to examine the potential effect (reduction/change) on use of psychotropic drugs associated with the use of music therapy interventions.
- A study exploring the potential impact (reduction/change) in institutionalization (e.g., admissions, readmissions, and LOS) related to MT-BCs training caregivers in music-based techniques.
- Approach private insurers for coverage of NICU interventions.
Clinical Population—Autism Spectrum Disorder [9 recommendations]
- Focus research in music therapy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on the following target domains/areas: Motor/sensory, Cognition, Mental health, Comorbidity, Pain perception, Musical development
- Define and provide detail on clinical decision making and service elements in current music therapy practice with persons with ASD. This definition includes research addressing the following questions:
- What is the role of music in the intervention?
- What is the role of the clinician?
- How do music therapists (MTs) set goals?
- How do MTs determine the rate, frequency, dose, and length of treatment?
- Define and incorporate consumer experiences and needs in music therapy services with persons with ASD. This recommendation includes research addressing the following questions:
- What brings consumers to music therapy (MT)?
- What are the consumers’ desired outcomes?
- What does MT mean for consumers?
- Conduct comparison studies in music therapy and ASD. This recommendation includes consideration of comparison research studies between outcome domains (inter-domain), among approaches (within MT practice), cost-effectiveness analyses, and between disciplines (outside MT profession).
- Incorporate family/peer-supported services in MT with persons with ASD. This recommendation includes research regarding the role and impact of MT services mediated by parents, peers, or siblings.
- Conduct research regarding MT services across the lifespan among persons with ASD. This recommendation includes research in the following areas: Effectiveness of MT for adults, Community music-making, Accommodations for success in the community.
- Ensure research includes cultural considerations including investigation of MT as vehicle for social change, acknowledging the culture of clients, and neurodiversity.
- Move toward standardization of music therapy assessments in MT practice with persons with ASD.
- Focus research on the following settings: Medical, School, Home, Clinic, Community
Clinical Population—Alzheimer’s & Dementias/Older Adults & Aging* [5 recommendations]
- Expand research applications with new publications.
- Create partnerships and collaborations with Centers on Aging, community agencies, researchers, etc., in order to improve quality of research, evaluation, training, access, etc.
- Improve research methodology to design decision tree analysis for MT interventions and include data that would contribute to cost effectiveness studies in research, when possible.
- Disseminate research to improve clinician access to MT and research on related disciplines to a) ensure high quality clinical care and b) establish AMTA as the centralized source of information on state-of-the-art music therapy for persons who are aging.
- Increase visibility of music therapy research nationally and internationally in established advocacy and policymaking bodies (e.g., Alzheimer’s Association NAPA, AARP, Trial Match).
*This workgroup recommended that the scope of the workgroup topic should expand to include older adults and aging populations in addition to persons with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.
Clinical Population—Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) & Comorbidities [6 recommendations]
- Identify and disseminate evidence that MT is effective in treating ABI and co-morbidities.
- Demonstrate the relative cost-effectiveness of MT interventions in this clinical population.
- Utilize expert clinical opinion as a form of evidence and to help drive research agendas.
- Include the voices of patients with ABI in MT research (service-user led research).
- Generate clinical data sets that can be shared to support lines of MT research in this clinical topic.
- Incorporate research frameworks to develop lines of research that speak to colleagues in other disciplines.
Building Research Capacity: Research Infrastructure [5 recommendations]
- Create a portrait of the current music therapy research infrastructure with case studies of best practices, including examples from universities, clinical research faculty positions, and research fellowships.
- Increase meaningful engagement of clinicians in research, including as Principal Investigators.
- Increase research-active scholars among persons with doctoral level training to support their regular and active involvement in research programs and to support development of lines of research.
- Increase postdoctoral opportunities through raising awareness of research career paths and through PhD faculty mentors.
- Include the voice of the consumers (as partners and collaborators) in music therapy research.
Building Research Capacity: Research Infrastructure – Education, Continuing Education, and Training [6 recommendations]
- Explore best practices in the education of evidence-based and evidence-informed MT practice.
- Expand methodologies to include clients’ and clinicians’ voices in the MT body of research.
- Develop opportunities for post-doctoral training and education in MT practice and research scholarship.
- Develop and conduct focus groups to identify continuing education needs unique to each of the following roles: educators, clinicians, internship directors, and researchers (online, regional, state, national).
- Explore ways to make research relevant to clinical practice, e.g., engage clinicians and researchers in responding to publications.
- Create mechanisms to disseminate information on available grants, mentorships, fellowships, and post-doctoral opportunities.
MTR2025 is an initiative of AMTA geared towards stimulating conversation about building research capacity and growing the production and usage of high quality research in music therapy.
Multiple cross-cutting themes emerged at MTR2025 symposium. Here is a selection:
- Consumer Impact. The critical importance of the consumers’ voices in music therapy research, planning, and implementation
- Clinician Involvement. The essential role of the practicing music therapist in accessing and using published research and in participating in research as clinician-scholars and as part of team science
- Diverse Methodologies. The value of embracing diverse, complex, and integrated research methodologies
- Theory. The need to further develop, integrate, describe, and link theory and theoretical models in music therapy research with well articulated and defined music therapy interventions
- Research Capacity Building. The need to grow research capacity among music therapists with attention to both research infrastructure as well as education, training, and continuing education
- Economic Analyses. The importance of including, where appropriate, cost and economic analyses as part of music therapy research including building research partnerships with individuals skilled in cost analyses and economic research
- Expanding Partnerships. The value of expanding and growing collaborations, partnerships, and networks (including interdisciplinary team science) for efficient and productive work in important lines of research
The recommendations developed by symposium participants represent only a fraction of the important dialogue and exchange occurring before, during, and continuing after the symposium. As we rocket towards the year 2025, it is important that each individual consider one’s role and contribution in growing and sustaining a legacy of research to inform practice and, ultimately, benefit our clients and their families.
This symposium was just the beginning. Following the July, 2015, symposium, AMTA continues MTR2025 by way of an array of discussions, activities, and processes to infuse, embed, and integrate research as a cross-cutting and essential feature of clinical and association functions designed to increase access to and quality of music therapy services.
MTR2025 Progress Report
Progress Report of Historic Music Therapy Research Symposium - MTR2025: A Productive and Engaging Meeting!
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) convened an historic and innovative research symposium, “IMPROVING ACCESS AND QUALITY: MUSIC THERAPY RESEARCH 2025” (MTR2025), July 16-18, 2015. This visionary special event was designed to recommend guidance for future research in music therapy and was made possible by a generous donation from David’s Fund and Tom and Lucy Ott.
The Editors of AMTA’s peer reviewed journals, Drs. Meadows and Robb noted that,
“when viewed as a whole, music therapy research has moved through several important stages of development, characterized by differentiation and integration of philosophies and perspectives that parallel changes occurring in the broader national health research community, including an emphasis on diverse methodologies. Central to advancing the science and practice of music therapy is finding ways to develop and integrate this knowledge across these research cultures, while meeting both internal and external demands for research that demonstrates improvements in quality and access to care.”
The opening night keynotes addressed these points and others.
- Importance of Research for Improving Access and Quality by Pamela Hinds, RN, PhD, FAAN, Associate Center Director, Center for Translational Science, Children’s Research Institute; Director, Nursing Research and Quality Outcomes, Children’s National™
- Cultures of Inquiry in Music Therapy and Research and the Changing Landscape of Knowledge Generation and Implementation by Sheri Robb, PhD, MT-BC and Tony Meadows, PhD, MT-BC.
The Symposium agenda facilitated input from a broad and diverse group of professional music therapists including clinicians, educators, students, and researchers.
- Panel One: Music Therapy Research Needs: a summary of surveys/interviews with clinicians and educators was followed by exploration of how the research process grows and evolves in music therapy practice and highlights the important questions, potential impact, and interplay of theories, methods, and approaches.
- Panel Two: Policy Imperatives: discussed the impact of research on Music Therapy recognition, access, and funding. AMTA Government Relations Director, Judy Simpson, shared her thoughts regarding future music therapy research as it informs policy imperatives. Judy summarized input from a variety of colleagues regarding the role and use of research in policy-making and advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels.
- Panel Three: Considerations for Future Research in Selected Clinical Topics: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias, and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) were selected to highlight opportunities for future research. These topics involve large segments of practicing music therapists and have been identified by policy-makers and funders as areas where research findings impact policy and funding. Each topic leader outlined considerations for future research in music therapy, drawing from the literature and knowledge of trends in current music therapy practice. Respondents added commentary and supplemental remarks.
- Panel Four: Research Capacity Building: Infrastructure, Education, and Training: panelists offered conceptual ideas and factors for consideration regarding research capacity building for two major topics: a) research infrastructure and b) music therapy education and training. In addition to the perspectives of educators, the perspectives of practicing clinicians and intern supervisors were presented because of their importance to the dialogue, and the unique set of challenges and needs of practicing clinician/scholars.
Six breakout groups convened in which participants discussed topics related to Panels Two, Three and Four, responded to a set of questions, and prioritized 42 recommendations. The results will be summarized, consolidated, and shared in the fall through the AMTA website and at the annual conference. AMTA is proud to sponsor this unique opportunity to bring the many myriad members of the music therapy community together to collaboratively explore our research future.
For more information contact:
Al Bumanis, AMTA Director of Communications
Bumanis@musictherapy.org; 301-589-3300, ext. 103, office; 240-401-1001, cell.
Music Therapy Highlights: NIH-Sponsored Third National Summit on Military & Arts
- March 4, 2015
Dr. Joke Bradt, Associate Professor, music therapist, and research scholar, at Drexel University, presented the opening plenary speech for the “Third National Summit: Advancing Research in the Arts for Health and Well-being across the Military Continuum” held on February 27, 2015, featuring her NIH-sponsored research on chronic pain and vocal music therapy. The summit was hosted by Americans for the Arts, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health/National Institutes of Health (formally NCCAM)/NIH), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
AMTA proudly headed a delegation of more than 25 music therapy professionals, representing AMTA’s two scholarly journals; NIH-funded music therapy researchers; music therapists’ research and practice at Veterans Health Administration facilities; and music therapists in private practice, in hospitals, in the community, at military health facilities, and at academic centers nationwide. AMTA provided outreach information at the meeting and distributed copies of the AMTA white paper on military and music therapy (http://www.musictherapy.org/amta_releases_white_paper_on_music_therapy__military/)
Dr. Bradt did an outstanding job of explaining her research, as well as differentiating the role of the MT-BC from that of artists in healthcare. In addition to Dr. Bradt’s plenary talk, music therapist Rebecca Vaudreuil, who is on a temporary assignment at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) and at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, MD, provided an informative small group presentation on the role of songwriting and music therapy, “Creative Arts Therapies in Interdisciplinary Care at NICoE Facilities.” Rebecca is serving as visiting music therapist during the maternity leave of music therapist Julie Garrison, who founded the music therapy program at NICoE and WRNMMC.
Numerous speakers at the Summit noted how the arts and music have always been a part of military culture in a variety of ways. What distinguished this NIH Summit is the recognition that music therapists and other creative arts therapists have been conducting important research relevant to the interests of military populations and health providers at VA and military health facilities. The arts and creative arts therapies were characterized by Captain Moira McGuire, at Walter Reed as a “must have” rather than a “nice to have.”
AMTA staff and members successfully advocated for the unique value of board certified music therapists to numerous NIH, NEA, NEH, and VA officials as well as to other administrators and gatekeepers.
A report and recommendations based on the Summit is expected to follow in the coming months.
Information online regarding the Americans for the Arts and the “National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military” can be found at http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/legislation-policy/the-national-initiative-for-arts-health-in-the-military
Improving Quality and Access: Music Therapy Research 2025 (MTR2025)
Embarking on a Journey
Improving Quality and Access: Music Therapy Research 2025 (MTR2025)
- Originally published in Music Therapy Matters, September 2014
On the evening of September 5, 2014 a small team of music therapists and AMTA staff convened a day and a half meeting to discuss and propose plans for garnering input from music therapy professionals on future directions and opportunities in music therapy research.
Thanks to funding by Tom and Lucy Ott and David’s Fund, AMTA has the extraordinary opportunity to focus over the next year on guidance for future generations of scholarship in music therapy. Once funding was awarded, an Advisory Team was appointed by the Board of AMTA. Serving on the team are Annette Whitehead-Pleaux (Speaker of Assembly), Judy Simpson (Director, Government Relations), with Drs. Debra Burns (Chair, Research Committee), Sheri Robb (Editor in Chief, JMT), Tony Meadows (Editor in Chief, MTP), Alicia Clair (AMTA Board Representative), Andi Farbman (Executive Director), and Linda Demlo (Retired, USPHS/CDC and AHRQ). Dr. Joke Bradt, was unable to attend the meeting due to previous international travel plans, but she offered input in advance. Barbara Else serves as Project Coordinator in her role as a consultant and Senior Advisor/Special Projects Coordinator.
The initiative, part of the Strategic Priority on Research, is visionary in nature with the ultimate goal being to advance the state of the music therapy research. The Advisory Team named the initiative, Improving Quality and Access: Music Therapy Research 2025. Similar to the federal government’s Healthy People 2020 program aimed at improving the health of Americans, MT Research 2025 aims to take a forward looking perspective to offer guidance on the many important areas of music therapy research and to prepare documents and products for a variety of audiences, both internal and external to the profession. An array of activities and input/communication mechanisms will be rolled out over the next eight months seeking the input of music therapists, including a research meeting tentatively planned for July, 2015. The product of these activities will be documents and reference tools, summarizing the input and guidance from the music therapy professional community at all levels.
Please stay tuned for the official press release and announcement launching Improving Quality and Access: Music Therapy Research 2025. And, most importantly, do participate in upcoming requests for input when announced, attend the session at annual conference on the initiative, and know that you can play a part in guiding future generations of music therapy scholars and investigations.
Albert Einstein was quoted as saying that he believed intuition, inspiration, and imagination are key factors in pursuing scientific research. Our pre-planning meeting was productive and very inspiring, due to the imagination and dedication of team.
Improving Quality and Access: Music Therapy Research 2025
MTR2025 Launches at the AMTA Annual Conference
- Originally published in Music Therapy Matters, December 2014
Improving Quality and Access: Music Therapy Research 2025, or simply “MTR2025,” is an AMTA initiative, which is part of the Strategic Priority on Research. MTR2025 is visionary in nature with the ultimate goal being to advance the state of music therapy research. MTR2025 aims to take a forward looking perspective to offer guidance on the many important areas of music therapy research and to prepare documents and products for a variety of audiences, both internal and external to the profession. External audiences include policy makers and funders. Offering stakeholders a concise document with recommendations on future research in music therapy based on the input and review of highly qualified music therapy professionals and researchers will be an historic and significant contribution.
As reported in the September 2014 newsletter, the advisory team met in the summer of 2014 to outline the initiative. During the November Annual Conference, AMTA Senior consultant, Barbara Else, invited conference attendees to be involved: “You are a part of this initiative and you need to offer your ideas and input regarding future research and questions important to music therapy practice and the profession. Music therapy professionals are encouraged to consider what we know—based upon the best available research evidence; and, consider what we don’t know—based upon your important open questions, gaps in knowledge, and unmet research needs. In thinking about your practice area and these needs, what would you recommend to guide the next several generations of researchers? In 2025, and beyond, what burning questions and research areas need to be addressed? What research infrastructure is needed to support these important questions?”
Over the next year, AMTA will be gathering input from music therapy professionals, researchers, and interested stakeholders regarding opportunities and needs for future research in music therapy. On the evening of July 16 through the morning of July 18, a face-to-face meeting to discuss future research opportunities and needs is planned and will take place near the Baltimore-Washington International airport. This research meeting is funded through a grant from Tom and Lucy Ott and “David’s Fund.” AMTA is extremely grateful for this grant and the opportunity to move the discussion forward. We are exploring efficient and convenient ways to disseminate the July 2015 meeting discussions to the members knowing that the face-to-face meeting will be limited in space and capacity.
What happened during the Louisville Conference?
MTR2025 was announced through a series of briefings at the AMTA Annual Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. During the annual meeting, briefings on MTR2025 were provided to the following groups:
- AMTA Board of Directors: General update and briefing provided.
- Regional Presidents and Presidents-Elect meeting: Each region will be nominating one key participant and two alternates for the July 2015 face-to-face research meeting. The alternates will be back-up in the event the nominee is unavailable.
- AMTA Assembly of Delegates: Assembly delegates were updated on the initiative. There was a focus on participation, noting input into MTR2025 is encouraged via multiple channels, including a dedicated email address and the July, 2015 face-to-face meeting.
- General conference session: This was a well-attended general session held on Friday evening of the conference. The session, facilitated by Barb Else, provided an introduction to the initiative with audience discussion and comments. Following the general session, AMTA President Amy Furman noted, “if this group is indicative of the enthusiasm and appetite for guidance and resources for future research in music therapy, then the future is bright!”
Any take-aways from these briefings?
Music therapists were clear in stating a desire to embrace research that considers all music therapy approaches and practice perspectives. Research questions should also consider and embrace all appropriate methods. During the general session, practicing clinicians expressed a strong desire to grow their skills in reviewing published research in order to translate findings/evidence into practice. Clinicians also expressed a desire to contribute to research projects and collaborate with investigators.
What is the timeline and what's next?
- Regional Presidents will be receiving a memo in January to solicit nominations for qualified participants at the July 2015 meeting.
- A small number of issue briefs summarizing a series of key research subtopics will be commissioned in advance of the July 2015 meeting to help stimulate discussion.
- AMTA’s website pages on research will be updated on the initiative.
How can I share my thoughts and ideas on future research in music therapy?
We welcome dialogue and discussions. In order to track your input and ideas, AMTA has set up an email address. We want to hear your thoughts and we will be soliciting input across a couple of phases. We begin with an open-ended call for comment and input from music therapists regarding your thoughts on future research guidance in music therapy. This comment period begins now and ends February 1, 2015. When sending your input, please let us know:
- Your name
- Indicate your preferred contact method and contact information (in case we need to seek clarification of your input)
- Identify your professional practice area(s) and/or practice setting(s)
- Indicate your primary professional role(s) – e.g., intern supervisor, private practice, educator, staff music therapist, etc.
- Provide your comment, suggestion for future research, and/or input. Concise comments are appreciated and not to exceed a couple of paragraphs.
- Send via email to: MTResearch2025@musictherapy.org Emails go to AMTA and are logged on an input tracking spreadsheet. All input will be shared with the Advisory Team and summarized as a whole in advance of the July 2015 meeting.