Thematic Analysis of the Experience of Group Music Therapy for People with Chronic Quadriplegia

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People living with quadriplegia are at risk for social isolation and depression. Research with other marginalized groups has indicated that music therapy can have a positive effect on mood and social interaction.


To gather descriptions of participants’ experience of 2 types of group music therapy - therapeutic singing or music appreciation and relaxation - and to determine commonalities and differences between participants’ experience of these 2 methods.


We interviewed 20 people with quadriplegia about their experience of participating in 12 weeks of therapeutic singing (n = 10) or music appreciation and relaxation (n = 10). These methods of group music therapy were the interventions tested in a previously reported randomized controlled trial. The interview data were subjected to an inductive thematic analysis.


Six main themes were generated from the interview data. Four of these were shared themes and indicated that both types of group music therapy had a positive effect on mood/mental state and physical state, encouraged social engagement, and reconnected participants with their music identity or relationship with music. In addition, the participants who participated in the singing groups found singing to be challenging and confronting, but experienced a general increase in motivation.


Group music therapy was experienced as an enjoyable and accessible activity that reconnected participants with their own music. Participants frequently described positive shifts in mood and energy levels, and social interaction was stimulated both within and beyond the music therapy groups.

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