Evaluation of X-System/NHS Music for Wellbeing Website

Northumbria University/NHS TEWV. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, X-System was invited to create playlists for the NHS Recovery College Online website.

These playlists were designed to assist NHS and other users to address  their mental health challenges by offering a menu of musical entrainments: e.g’.”I am feeling stressed, relax me’; “I am feeling OK, help me stay calm”; “I am feeling sluggish, liven me up”. In this study, the researchers did not examine the effects of specific individual entrainments (which have proved to be effective in other circumstances) but rather the affect of the playlists on wellbeing as a whole.

Northumbria University conducted an evaluation of the X-System playlist by means of a wellbeing diary which volunteer users (n=200) completed before and after listening. The results showed significant improvements in self-assessed physical and emotional wellbeing, sense of meaning and valence.

Mean scores before and after listening to music:

It is noticeable that there are not only significant improvements but a healthy symmetry and balance of values after listening to the playlists.

The Wilcoxon signed rank test reveals statistically significant differences for physical wellbeing with a small effect size (p<0.05, r= 0.253), emotional wellbeing with a medium effect size (p<0.001, r= 0.414), sense of meaning with a small effect size (p<0.001, r= 0.395), and valence with a medium effect size (p<0.001, r= 0.407).

As this experiment took place at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, where the site was attracting 50k users and 14k return users, it was considered unethical to establish controls (e.g. randomised entrainment lists etc.), or obstacles to a therapeutic process that was clearly effective.

Other Papers

1611 Summary of X-System Croydon Trial

Queen Mary University, Imperial College, The Royal College of Music 2017. The earliest known reference to entrainment is Christiaan Huygens’ description of two pendulum clocks ‘‘falling into synchrony’’.

HRV Paper

Northumbria University, 2019. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a useful measure of valence in music, that is to say how positive or negative the emotions of the listener are.

Predictions of Arousal and Violence Paper, Spring 2019

Tamil Nadu, 2019. In this study, validation of X-System valence predictions was carried out in an RCT, once again, in a non-Western culture.

Sanskrit Chant Pilot Study, 2018

Tamil Nadu, 2018. X-System is designed to be a universal musical tool, capable of predicting neurophysiological responses to music in all cultures.