New research publication: Outcome measures in music therapy

A new paper A Systematic Review of Outcome Measures in Music Therapy has been published by researchers at Nordoff Robbins and Nordoff Robbins Scotland: Neta Spiro, Giorgos Tsiris and Charlotte Cripps.

We ask the authors: What lead to this paper and what are the results that it describes?

Assessment has been part of music therapy practice since the early 1960s but the drive to use outcome measures in music therapy research and practice has increased in recent years. This situation may be related to changes in the field such as the emphasis on evidence based practice, funding expectations, as well as the expectation that the use of such measures and tools can contribute to understanding of the effects and effectiveness of interventions. As researchers we would often get requests for suggestions for outcome measures which are appropriate to different client groups and contexts. In many cases we would find it challenging to identify the outcome measures that existed specifically for music therapy.

In response to this challenge in 2016, we, as the Nordoff Robbins research team, published a resource bringing together all the outcome measures for music therapy  that we could find.

Our aim with the resource was to present to practitioners and researchers what outcome measures were available in the field.

In collating these outcome measures, some key questions emerged: What do these measures focus on and what is omitted in the current measures? What client groups are they designed for and what do they test?

Our new paper summarises the findings of our exploration of these questions. Among other observations, the findings show that most measures concern work with people with autism, developmental and learning disabilities, and special needs. They also show that the existing measures have the following main categories of focus: Musical engagement, functioning, communication and/ or interaction, relationship, and music therapy process.

For more information, take a look at the paper. We hope the findings from the research paper, alongside the original resource, will support practitioners and researchers in the field.