Lorain attorney's daughter publishes abstract on music therapy

Published: September 06, 2015

While Lorain attorney Jack Bradley is fighting for clients in the courtroom, his daughter, Jaclyn Bradley Palmer is battling anxiety in the hospital.

Palmer, 36, is a music therapist at University Hospitals and her music in breast cancer surgery study was just published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study found that music therapy lessened anxiety for women undergoing surgical breast biopsies for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The two-year study involved 207 patients at University Hospitals Seidman Caner Center.

"We learned that a brief music therapy session before surgery can reduce anxiety significantly, by 41 (percent) for recorded music and 43 (percent) for live music," said Palmer, who recently acquired a master’s degree in music therapy from Colorado State University. "We also learned that music is an enjoyable addition for both patients and staff."

When her abstract was published, Palmer said she was elated. After four years of meetings, preparations, 4 a.m. surgery calls, literature reviews, writings and revisions, she said it was amazing to see the effort come to life.

"Because we were published in the high impact Journal of Clinical Oncology, many health professionals will learn about this complimentary medical modality," Palmer said. "Years ago, I was living an exciting life in tinsel town. But today, I am partnering with surgeons and nurses to do my small part in helping to cure cancer, and nothing can compare to that."

During the trial period, Dr. Deforia Lane, a music therapist at University Hospitals who pioneered the profession in the medical setting, and Palmer would call patients ahead of time and invite them to participate in the study. After showing interest, they asked each woman to name a song that would help her feel calm if she were to hear it before surgery.

"Patients chose a range of songs, from 'Amazing Grace’ to 'Big Girls Don’t Cry,’ to 'The Greatest Love of All,’" Palmer said. "Someone with a lovely sense of humor even chose Marvin Gaye’s 'Sexual Healing.’"

Patients were then randomized into three groups: a live music group; a recorded music group; and a control group with no music. When it was surgery day, patients in the experimental groups had their song, either performed with guitar a accompaniment or via headphones, Palmer said. They tested anxiety before and after the music therapy intervention, which consisted of the preferred song, plus processing of emotions afterward.

Patients in both music groups also listened to harp tunes during their twilight anesthesia procedures. Participants in the control group only received standard care before surgery, but were presented with their song choice before discharge.

Palmer didn’t start in the medical field, but had spent a decade in show business. After that, she decided to "serve the greater good."

She moved home and began volunteering at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. During that time, she encountered the work of a music therapist and realized that this will allow her to integrate her passion for music.

"I quickly enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program at Cleveland State University," she said, adding that she heard of Lane’s work. "I saw one awe-inspiring video of her work and thought 'I need to work with this woman.’

"After graduation, I applied for an internship with her and landed it. I remember, when she called to tell me the news, she sang my acceptance invitation."

During her internship, Palmer had the opportunity to watch a surgery. She said she witnessed the anxiety that happens when patients are in the operating room. She said she wondered how her music therapy could remedy this. She met nurse anesthetist and co-researcher Diane Mayo, which led them to studying the effects of music therapy.

This is the first study on music therapy involving women experiencing surgical biopsies and lumpectomies. It’s also the largest study of its kind to bring live, active music in the surgical area.

Music has always been in Palmer’s heart since she was a little girl and Bradley said he and his wife, Deborah, have enjoyed seeing all she has accomplished.

"Her journey has been very enjoyable to my wife and myself, believe me," he said. "It’s an unbelievable accomplishment. To be published is a real accomplishment, but for someone who is a music therapist, to be published in a medical journal is amazing."

Bradley said Palmer’s abstract has been publicized worldwide in places such as India and Korea.

When the Bradleys put Palmer in preschool at age 3. Her teacher asked what she wanted to do and she said that she wanted to sing a song, Bradley said. The song was "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby."

To read this article on medicalresearch.com, click here.