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National Institutes of Nursing Research Grant for Music Therapy

January 11, 2017 02:00 PM

Dr. Sheri Robb and Colleagues Receive $1.4 Million Grant Award from the National Institutes of Nursing Research

In July 2016, The National Institutes of Nursing Research awarded Dr. Sheri Robb, MT-BC and colleagues a $1.4 million grant to study the effect of play interventions, such as active music engagement and storybook programs, on health outcomes in young children ages 3 to 8 undergoing chemotherapy treatment and their parents. Organizing an interdisciplinary team effort out of Indiana University – Purdue University in Indianapolis, Robb is joined by Co-Investigators, Dr. Joan Haase (nursing), Dr. David Delgado (medicine), Dr. Paul Haut (medicine), and Dr. Susan Perkins (biostatistics). Amanda Henley, MM, MT-BC is the study’s Core Project Manager and provides administrative oversight for the trial.  Additionally, Katherine Myers-Coffman, MS, MT-BC assists in intervention Quality Assurance Monitoring.

Aptly named the PINPOINT study, this multi-site randomized, controlled trial aims to “pinpoint” the underlying mechanisms that explain how and for whom a music-based play intervention works. The PINPOINT study builds on Robb’s previous work evaluating active music engagement and storybook interventions aimed at diminishing distress and improving positive health outcomes in pediatric cancer care (Robb, 2000; Robb et al., 2008; Robb et al., 2016). Dr. Robb shared that she is excited to be examining not only whether active music engagement is beneficial, but also the opportunity to examine the underlying mechanisms of action – because these directly inform the therapists’ clinical decision making process.  In the future, she hopes to examine whether active music engagement during acute treatment can prevent the incidence of traumatic stress symptoms after treatment ends.

Successful team science requires dedicated collaboration, and the PINPOINT research team involves an amazing team of 15 Board-Certified Music Therapists, 12 Certified Research Associates, and 4 Site-Primary Investigators/Project Managers across three sites (4 pediatric hospitals) in the United States including Riley Hospital for Children (Indianapolis, IN), Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics (Kansas City, MO), and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA).

Each site is led by a Site-Primary Investigator, Kristin Stegenga (Kansas City), Ariele Edwards and Taylor Lawrence (Atlanta) and has its own team of evaluators who administer evaluation measures and board-certified music therapists who deliver the active music engagement and storybook conditions. Training for the PINPOINT trial took place in August 2016, and opened to enrollment the following month. Over the next two years, the team will be working to enroll 184 child/parent participants.

PInPointOur PINPOINT music therapy clinician team includes: Catherine DePetrillo, Kirby Gilliam, Ann Hannan, Caitlin Krater, and Lauren Servos from Indianapolis, Cavin Lesher, Caylyn Krizan, Kim Robertson, Ashley Scheufler, and Liesel Stephens from Kansas City, and Laura Bryan, Hannah Bush, Beth Collier, Kally Ramminger, and Cori Snyder from Atlanta.

The PINPOINT study is timely in that it coincides with initiatives established by AMTA’s Music Therapy Research 2025 initiative; these include examining specific interventions for specific diagnoses or conditions and engaging in collaborative team science efforts through secure funding streams. A hearty congratulation is in order for the PINPOINT team for their efforts to continue advancing the field through quality music therapy practice and research.


Indianapolis Music Therapy Intervention and Evaluator Teams


Kansas City Music Therapy Intervention Team


Atlanta Music Therapy Intervention Team



Robb, S. L.  (2000). The effect of therapeutic music interventions on the behavior of hospitalized children in isolation:  Developing a contextual support model of music therapy.  Journal of Music Therapy, 37, 118 -146.

Robb, S.L., Clair, A.A., Watanabe, M., Monahan, P.O., Azzouz, F., Stouffer, J.W., Ebberts, A., Darsie, E., Whitmer, C., Walker, J., Nelson, K., Hanson-Abromeit, D., Lane, D., Hannan, A.  (2008). Non-randomized controlled trial of the active music engagement (AME) intervention on children with cancer.  Psycho-Oncology, 17, 699-708.

Robb, S.L., Haase, J.E., Perkins, S.M., Haut, P.R., Henley, A.K., Knafl, K.A., Tong, Y. (2016). Pilot randomized trial of Active Music Engagement Intervention parent delivery for young children with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Psychology.  doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsw050