Music therapy for preterm infants and their parents: A path forward for research in Poland

  • Łucja Bieleninik University of Gdańsk, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Psychology
  • Claire M. Ghetti University of Bergen, The Grieg Academy—Department of Music
Keywords: prematurity, preterm neonates, parenting, neonatal care, music therapy, non-pharmacological interventions, psychosocial interventions


Music therapy has been internationally recognized as a health-promoting profession since the end of World War II, and music therapists have been conducting research in neonatal intensive care since the 1990s. Music therapy professional training was established in Poland in 1973 at the Music Academy in Wrocław, and Polish music therapists have recently begun to seek specialization to work within neonatal intensive care. The commencement of the multi-site international randomized controlled trial LongSTEP, Longitudinal Study of music Therapy’s Effectiveness for Premature infants and their caregivers, has provided the impetus for Polish music therapists to begin offering music therapy services in neonatal intensive care. Thus, engagement in research marks the critical first step in the development of music therapy in neonatal care in Poland. This perspective article examines the current state of experimental research on music therapy in neonatal care and explores its implications for future research in Poland by (1) presenting the clinical aspects of prematurity; (2) summarizing experimental research on music therapy in neonatal intensive care; (3) identifying gaps in the related evidence base; (4) discussing recent developments in international music therapy research; (5) contextualizing music therapy in the Polish neonatal health care system; (6) presenting advanced training in neonatal music therapy, and (7) discussing how culturally relevant aspects of neonatal settings in Poland might impact future research. There is preliminary evidence that music therapy plays a beneficial role for preterm infants and their primary caregivers during the neonatal period; however, research examining long-term impacts and longer-term intervention is needed. Researchers in Poland are poised to make a significant contribution to the international evidence base related to music therapy in neonatal care, and further exploration of particular facets of the Polish neonatal health care system that will impact the delivery of music therapy is warranted.


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