Trial of improvisational music therapy's effectiveness for children with Autism (TIME-A)

Project Department: Uni Research Health (group: Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre) period: 27.04.12 - 31.12.16

Project results

The main results, published in JAMA in August 2017, indicated that improvisational music therapy did not reduce autism symptoms more than enhanced standard care.

However, positive effects of music therapy were found in subscales and additional post-hoc analyses.

Furthermore, music therapy was well accepted by parents, children, and staff; parents reported their children’s enjoyment and benefit from improvisational music therapy; and parents reported their own involvement in music therapy as positive.

The study report received considerable media attention on CNN and other mass media, bringing recognition of music therapy and autism as important research areas. See comments on the coverage from the Principal Investigator (pdf) .

Several spin-off projects have developed from TIME-A and will help to further understand and improve music therapy for children with ASD.

About the project

The Trial of Improvisational Music therapy’s Effectiveness for children with Autism (TIME-A) set out to be the first well-controlled effectiveness study and largest randomised controlled trial on non-pharmacological therapy for autism so far.

The background for the project was that prevalence figures for ASD were rising, and early interventions would be important to reduce the risk of individuals to withdraw from education, working life and social activities. Previous research had suggested that music therapy may enhance skills of social interaction and communication and was therefore considered as promising early intervention for children diagnosed with ASD.

The aim of TIME-A was to find out whether music therapy is an effective early intervention for children with ASD. We therefore included children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder between 4 and 7 years.

TIME-A was an international project hosted by GAMUT - The Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre, Uni Research Health, and built upon a collaboration of nine countries worldwide (Australia, Austria, Brazil, Israel, Italy, Korea, Norway, UK, and USA). With this network, the project was able to recruit and randomise 364 children with ASD, making it in fact the largest study in the field to date.

The project was officially closed in December 2016, but the collaboration between the partners continues, and further related publications are likely to appear.

TIME-A was supported by The Research Council of Norway (grant no. 213844, The Clinical Research and The Mental Health Programmes) and other sources.


TIME-A logo

See full study protocol (doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-12-2)
Download Spanish translation of the study protocol (pdf)


Team and contact

TIME-A is operated by GAMUT (Uni Research Health) and builds upon an international collaboration of 9 countries world wide. The project  consists of music therapists that are highly experienced both in the application of clinical music therapy as well as conducting research projects. The team includes leading experts in autism research in music therapy and aims to strengthen the research network and knowledge in this particular field.

Each collaboration partner will contribute to the implementation of TIME-A and is encouraged to contribute with sub-projects related to the overall project. Subprojects should be developed particularly in order to understand better predictors of change in music therapy and the relationship between the music therapy process and clinical outcomes. 

In the following list you will find our team members, their location, and role in the project. 

  • Principal investigator: Christian Gold, GAMUT, Uni Research Health, Bergen, Norway, contact:
  • Project coordinator:  Łucja Bieleninik, Monika Geretsegger and Karin Mössler, GAMUT, Uni Health, Bergen, Norway, contact:
  • Biostatistician: Jörg Assmus, GAMUT, Uni Research Health, Bergen, Norway, contact:
  • Site managers (site coordinators) in the collaborating countries are:
    • Australia:  Grace Thompson, University of Melbourne, contact:  
    • Austria: Monika Geretsegger, Aalborg University/University of Vienna, contact:         
    • Brazil: Gustavo Gattino, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, contact:
    • Israel: Cochavit Elefant, Universit of Haifa, contact:
    • Italy: Filippo Muratori IRCCS Fondazione Stella Maris (Ferdinando Suvini; Roberta Igliozzi; Raffaella Tancredi), contact:
    • Korea: Jinah Kim, Jeonju University, contact:
    • Norway: Karin Mössler, GAMUT, Uni Research Health, Bergen, contact:
    • United Kingdom, Cambridge: Amelia Oldfield,  Cambridge Schools Project in collaboration with Cambridgeshire Music, contact:
    • United Kingdom, London and East of England: Mike Crawford, NWL Foundation NHS Trust; Helen Odell-Miller, Anglia Ruskin University Principal Investigator Cambridge and Peterborough NIHR Funded, contact Claire Grant:
    • USA: John Carpente, Molloy College, Rockville Centre, NY, contact:

In each country, this team is supported by different clinical institutions that is actively involved concerning participant recruitment, providing interventions (music therapy, parent counselling, outcome assessment).

In Norway a collaboration has been established with the Clinic of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (PBU) at Haukeland University Hospital. 

Scientific Advisory Board

  • Maj-Britt Posserud (Helse Bergen, Norway)
  • Karin Schumacher (Berlin University of the Arts, Germany)

TIME-A Newsletters

TIME-A: Selected papers

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cp: 2019-12-04 11:15:27