A therapeutic songwriting intervention to promote reconstruction of self-concept and enhance well-being following brain or spinal cord injury: pilot randomized controlled trial

Felicity A. Baker, Jeanette Tamplin, Nikki Rickard, Jennie Ponsford, Peter W New, Young Eun C. Lee

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine the size of the effects and feasibility (recruitment and retention rates) of a therapeutic songwriting protocol for in-patients and community-dwelling people with acquired brain injury or spinal cord injury. Design: Randomized controlled trial with songwriting intervention and care-as-usual control groups, in a mixed measures design assessed at three time points. Participants: A total of 47 participants (3 in-patients with acquired brain injury, 20 community participants with acquired brain injury, 12 in-patients with spinal cord injury, and 12 community participants with spinal cord injury: 23 1208 days post injury). Interventions: The intervention group received a 12-session identity-targeted songwriting programme, where participants created three songs reflecting on perceptions of past, present, and future self. Control participants received care as usual. Measures: Baseline, postintervention, and follow-up measures comprised the Head Injury Semantic Differential Scale (primary outcome measure), Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Emotion Regulation Questionnaire, and Satisfaction with Life Scale. Results: No significant between group pre–post intervention differences were found on the primary self-concept measure, the Head Injury Semantic Differential Scale (p = 0.38, d = 0.44). Significant and large effect sizes from baseline to post between groups in favour of the songwriting group for Satisfaction with Life (p = 0.04, n 2 p = 0.14). There were no significant between group pre-post interaction effects for the Emotion Regulation Suppression subscale (p = 0.12, n 2 p = –0.08) although scores decreased in the songwriting group over time while increasing for the standard care group. There were no significant differences in baseline to follow-up between groups in any other outcome measures. Recruitment was challenging due to the small number of people eligible to participate combined with poor uptake by eligible participants, particularly the in-patient group. Retention rates were higher for the community-dwelling cohorts. Conclusion: This study demonstrates the challenges in recruitment and retention of participants invited to participate in a music therapy study. Findings suggest this identity-focused therapeutic songwriting protocols may be more beneficial for people who have transitioned from in-patient to community-contexts given the greater proportion of participants who consent and complete the intervention. Preliminary effects in favour of the intervention group were detected in a range of well-being measures suggesting that a larger study is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1055
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • brain injury
  • identity
  • music therapy
  • self-concept
  • Spinal cord injury

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