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Music therapy and retinopathy of prematurity screening: using recorded maternal singing and heartbeat for post exam recovery



Explore a music therapy (MT) intervention to support infant recovery post retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) exam.

Study design

Prospective, double-masked, randomized, parallel group study of 100 preterm infants exposed to MT (recorded maternal singing/heartbeat) or standard care (SC). Premature Infant Pain Profile (PIPP) measured at: baseline, during the exam, and 1 and 5 min post exam.


Recovery PIPP scores were less with MT vs. SC, but statistical significance not achieved (Mean ± sd: MT 1 min [5.81 ± 2.93] and 5 min [3.91 ± 1.73] vs. SC 1 min [6.40 ± 2.78] and 5 min [4.76 ± 2.07], p = 0.07). Recovery PIPP sores were significantly higher with SC compared to MT when eye exams were longer (p = 0.049) or when exams were more painful (p = 0.04).


Recorded maternal singing and heartbeat can support recovery post ROP exam. For longer/more painful ROP exams, MT may be more effective than SC promoting recovery post exam.

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Fig. 1: Study design.
Fig. 2: Music therapy versus standard care at repeated measures.
Fig. 3: Length of exam and recovery PIPP scores.
Fig. 4: Pain during exam and recovery PIPP scores.


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We thank Ann Diaz, RN, BSN, MA, NE-BC and Christine Naylor, BSN, RNC-NIC, CBC for their diligent work completing case report forms and collecting data. We thank the ROP team at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital and the Eye Physicians of Central Florida for their feedback on the study protocol and coordination with the music therapists. Finally, we thank Jeanine Clapsaddle, MA, LMFT, CCLS for her administrative support of the music therapy team with this project.


This project was supported and partially funded by The University of Central Florida, Theta Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society through a $500 grant.

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Authors and Affiliations



MJC—Principal investigator and music therapist; wrote study protocol, managed regulatory documents, obtained informed consent, conducted music therapy interventions, conducted statistical analyses, interpreted the data, and wrote manuscript. JRK—Co-investigator and music therapist; wrote study protocol, obtained informed consent, conducted music therapy interventions, and assisted in the interpretation of the data. HDM—Co-investigator and program manager for nursing and special projects; consulted on research methods and procedures, assisted in protocol writing, and edited. BABK—Biostatistician; conducted statistical analyses, interpreted and wrote the results, and edited manuscript. SBF—Nurse scientist; assisted in conceptualization of design and edited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maxwell J. Corrigan.

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Corrigan, M.J., Keeler, J.R., Miller, H.D. et al. Music therapy and retinopathy of prematurity screening: using recorded maternal singing and heartbeat for post exam recovery. J Perinatol 40, 1780–1788 (2020).

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