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Oncology Concerts (OK)

Within the frameworks of the Oncology Concerts live vocal and instrumental concerts are organized for children treated in the Oncology Department of Pediatrics of Medical and Health Science Centre of Debrecen University. Besides the children the target audience consists of relatives of the patients, the medical staff (doctors, nurses, supporting personnel), medical students and students of music.

By choosing a proper name (in Hungarian language the OK abbreviation is applied) we had to take into consideration the excessive sensitiveness of the patients and their relatives and also their susceptibility to positive thoughts. The concerts are organized regularly. Their duration is about 60 minutes per occasion, taking into consideration the concentration capacity of the children and the schedule of the medical team.

During the concerts there is an opportunity also to have conversations with the performers and the students. Such conversations can help to process previously suppressed feelings mobilized by the music.

The program has been started at April 2006. It is important to stress that during the concerts the children and their relatives have the opportunity to request songs and musical performances suitable for their own taste. The repertoire consists of: musical fairy tales, what the children can use to experience the successful fight with the Enemy (in this case the Illness), pieces of classical music helping to dissolve emotional and communicational inhibitions and pieces of light music causing released, cathartic state.

Scientific Background

Cancer patients have to cope with a significant amount of emotional distress during and even after the necessary treatments. It changes their immune and endocrine functions unfavourably while influences their life quality negatively.

Neglecting of treatment of depression and anxieties can lead to deterioration of life quality and can hinder the normalisation of life functions. According to the results of researches aiming at examination of connections between malignant tumours and life quality the emotional distress has a negative effect on physical state of the patients and influences the effectiveness of the treatments as well.

During treatment of cancerous diseases the everyday life of the patients breaks. The effects of it appear in changing in the areas of school life, learning, emotional and physical state and self image. The patients go through a lot of events what they have slight or no control over at all. Amongst the negative experiences they feel anxieties, feeling of physical discomfort and a lot of other negative emotions which can slow the process of healing down. (Davis, Gfeller, & Thaut, 1999).

According to the results of Cousins (1979) the positive attitude toward life causes positive changes in chemistry of blood.

Sue, Sue and Sue (1994) state that inhibition of expressing emotions or inhibitions in making long-term human relationships possibly are in connection with the development of cancerous diseases.

In the age of holistic, bio-psycho-social healing the demand of effective, noninvasive therapeutic treatments having advantageous effects on the treatment of health problems like cancerous diseases are higher and higher. Music therapy as a supplementary treatment is able to meet such requirements. It can reduce the rate of distress destroying life quality and can help to reach special goals such as self expression, anxiety reduction, easing physical discomfort feeling, relaxation, supporting coping strategies and help also for the patients to accommodate to their new, hospital environment.

Live music containing instrumental and vocal performances is accepted much more favourably by the participants than recorded music. It is especially true for children since live music can more engage their attention than passive listening to music. The concerts are interactive, so the children are active participants of their therapy. It is especially important from the point of view of avoiding the state of learned helplessness, since thus the patients can learn that they are nut just passive subjects but active participants of their healing process.


Davis, W. B., Gfeller, K. E., & Thaut, M. H. (1999). An Introduction to music therapy: theory and practice (2nd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Cousins, N. H. (1979). Anatomy of an illness as perceived by the patient: Reflections on healing and regeneration. New York: Norton

Sue, D., Sue, D., Sue, S. (1994). Psychological factors affecting medical conditions. In Understanding abnormal behavior (4th ed., pp. 225-251). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Aims of the program

During the Oncology Concerts live vocal and instrumental concerts are organized for helping the cure of children treated in the Oncology Department of Paediatrics of Medical and Health Science Centre of Debrecen University. The concerts are organized in therapeutic circumstances keeping in view the following aims:

Basic aims

    • Pain reduction,

    • Energizing,

    • Helping to express thoughts and emotions,

    • Supporting the accommodation to the hospital environments of children and their relatives,

    • Stimulating senses,

    • Development of coping mechanisms,

    • Reducing fear and tension,

    • Promoting the feeling of success focusing the following areas:

    • ensuring natural environment helping the self-expression,

    • creating social environment for increasing the rate of interactions amongst the participants by activities suitable for the age of children,

    • helping the processing of topics concerning hospital treatments and death.


Further aims

  • Helping the work of the medical team (doctors, nurses, supporting personnel).

  • Enlargement of rate of experiences and self-knowledge of the participant musicians and students.

  • Enlargement of rate of knowledge and professional skills of the participant medical students.

  • Intruducing the possibilities of Music Therapy (a) in medicine and (b) in science of music.

  • Expanding of scale of healing possibilities.


Target groups of the program

Primary target group of the Oncology Concerts is the group of children treated on Oncology Department of Paediatrics of Medical and Health Science Centre of University of Debrecen. Another important primary group is the group of nurses. The nurses can prepare the children for the concerts and they also have the opportunity to talk with them after the concerts. Nurses suffering from burnout can not co-operate properly in the program, so it is advisable to organize burnout trainings form the nurses parallel to the concerts.

Secondary target groups:

  • The medical team (doctors, nurses, supporting personnel)

  • Relatives of the sick children,

  • Medical students,

  • Musicians and students of music.


    Expected Results

    By reaching the minimum goal the entertainment of children suffering from cancerous diseases, their relatives, the interested members of the medical team and students can be assured from time to time.

    By reaching the maximum goal we can contribute to the successful treatment of children suffering from cancerous diseases, we can help the work of the medical team (doctors, nurses, supporting personnel), to enlarge the professional and personal knowledge of the participant musicians, musical and medical students and last but not least to introduce the method of Music Therapy proved to be efficient in a lot of countries already but a bit neglected in Hungary into the medical practice. Thus, as a next step, other methods of Music Therapy also could be made accepted by the Hungarian practice of medicine and as a result of it the medical students could learn more about this exceptional method having no side effects.

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