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Sound Origins: Connecting through voice

Having a baby admitted to neonatal intensive care is a highly stressful and traumatic event which can have significant impact on parent’s mental health and ability to bond with their baby. This is further impacted when the baby is diagnosed with a condition which is life-threatening and requires complex care.

Music Therapy (MT) has been shown to be accessible for those experiencing symptoms of PTSD and research from the United States of America, Australia and Europe is demonstrating benefits for premature infant development. However, seriously unwell infants are often excluded from these studies and in the UK there is currently no standardised practice for music therapy on the neonatal Unit.


Collaboratively with parent and healthcare professionals we will develop a music therapy program that will support key aspects of continuing bonds for parents with seriously unwell babies on the neonatal unit which is acceptable and accessible to a multicultural population.

We will identify any training requirements for Music Therapists working on neonatal units and appropriate outcome measures for a future pilot study.


This study will co-design a music therapy program to support key aspects of continuing bonds for parents with seriously unwell infants. This will be achieved across four phases:

  1. Integrative review and national survey: To develop understanding of current support on the neonatal unit, the neonatal experience and cultural connections to music
  2. Focus groups and interviews
  3. Analysis of data and co-design of a prototype
  4. Pre-testing of the prototype, including supporting materials, with four families at UCLH with follow up interviews
Project status: Starting
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Principal Investigator


Project websites


Funding Body: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South London

Amount: 416,084.80

Period: September 2023 - August 2026