Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

About 19% of adults in the United States have anxiety; it is even more common among cancer survivors. Treatment can help people manage anxiety. For example, music therapy can help people feel more relaxed and manage the thoughts and feelings that come with anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps people learn to change patterns in their thinking to improve how they feel.

Therapists can use telehealth to provide both music therapy and CBT. Telehealth is a way to provide care to patients remotely using video or web services. Telehealth can help reach people who have a hard time getting to treatment in person.

In this study, the research team is comparing how well remote music therapy and CBT help adult cancer survivors manage their anxiety symptoms.

Who can this research help?

Results may help therapists when considering ways to help cancer survivors manage their anxiety.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is recruiting patients with anxiety who have survived cancer. All patients are receiving treatment at cancer centers in New York, New Jersey, or Florida. The team is assigning patients by chance to receive either music therapy or CBT. Patients take part in a one-hour remote treatment session once a week for seven weeks.

Patients receiving music therapy work with a music therapist. Music therapists create custom treatments that may involve listening to music, singing, or writing a song. Patients receiving CBT learn ways to relax, change negative thinking patterns, and manage their worries. Therapists help patients recognize thoughts and behaviors that make their anxiety worse and replace them with thoughts and behaviors that improve how they feel.

At the start of the study and again 4, 8, 16, and 26 weeks later, patients are completing surveys. The surveys ask about symptoms of anxiety and depression, sleep quality, and quality of life. A subset of patients is taking part in interviews after their treatment. The research team is asking these patients about their experience with music therapy or CBT. The team is also tracking medicines that patients are taking for anxiety.

Cancer survivors, psychologists, music therapists, social workers, doctors, and community groups are providing input on the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Element Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population 300 English- and Spanish-speaking cancer survivors ages 18 and older who report anxiety symptoms lasting at least 1 month
  • Music therapy
  • CBT

Primary: anxiety

Secondary: depression, fatigue, insomnia, and health-related quality of life

Timeframe Timeframe Length of follow-up for collecting data on primary outcomes. View Glossary 26-week follow-up for primary outcome

Project Information

Jun Mao, MD, MSCE
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Music Therapy vs. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Cancer-related Anxiety (MELODY)

Key Dates

July 2021
January 2026

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: October 18, 2023