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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 8, 2008

Dvorak awarded national grant to study music-therapy cancer support groups

Abbey Dvorak, music therapist in the Department of Rehabilitation Therapies at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, has been awarded the Arthur Flagler Fultz Research Award from the American Music Therapy Association.

The $10,000 grant will support a research study to examine the effects of six-week music therapy support groups on mood, coping, social support and quality of life for individuals diagnosed with breast cancer and their caregivers (family members or close friends). The groups will be held twice a week, 60 minutes each session, over the course of six weeks.

"Adults diagnosed with cancer and their families face incredible social, physical, emotional, and psychological stress. Social support given by family members or close friends is invaluable both during and after treatment," said Dvorak, who has facilitated music therapy support groups in adult oncology at UI Hospitals and Clinics. "Bringing together multiple families increases their social support networks and builds a community of families with shared experiences. One way of facilitating multiple family support groups is through music therapy.

"Activities in the groups may include playing instruments that are designed so anyone may play them, listening to music, talking about music, songwriting, relaxation with music, singing, moving with music, and drawing to music," Dvorak said. "The activities are designed to be enjoyable for people with all levels of musical background, including no formal musical training. Participants need not read music, have any special musical training or have any musical talent in order to participate successfully."

Before and after each session, the participants will be asked to evaluate and mark a number on a form regarding their level of stress, anxiety, pain, mood and quality of life. In addition, participants will be asked to fill out additional forms about their mood, social support, and quality of life during the first, third and sixth week of sessions.

Participants in the group must be women with breast cancer; 20 to 65 years old; recently diagnosed within the last year; an outpatient currently undergoing treatment or who will have their last treatment appointment within six months of the first group music therapy session; and have a family member or close friend also willing to participate in the group.

The Arthur Flagler Fultz Research Fund, through the American Music Therapy Association, is made possible by a grant from David's Fund and Tom and Lucy Ott. The Fultz Award encourages music therapy research and supports innovative music therapy treatments in the areas of clinical and health services research.

For more information or to participate in this study, please contact Abbey Dvorak at 319-356-4718.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,