The Impact Areas Questionnaire (IAQ): A Music Therapy Service Evaluation Tool


  • Giorgos Tsiris Queen Margaret University; St Columba's Hospice, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Neta Spiro Royal College of Music
  • Owen Coggins Nordoff Robbins
  • Ania Zubala University of the Highlands and Islands



service evaluation, impact areas, tool, Impact Areas Questionnaire (IAQ), Nordoff Robbins


Service evaluation is a professional requirement for music therapy practitioners and organisations. Yet service evaluation findings are rarely published within the professional literature, and there is limited documentation of the processes and methods of such evaluations, including the rationale, dilemmas, and challenges encountered. This is perhaps due to the perceived status, methodological weaknesses, and context-specificity of service evaluation work. Drawing on our engagement with service evaluation in diverse settings, we have become aware of its potential beyond its typical current uses in the field as well as of the need for open discussion and debate about the service evaluation tools that are available. This is where the aim of this paper lies: to introduce a service evaluation tool, the Impact Areas Questionnaire (IAQ), alongside the studies that led to its construction. Developed originally through a review of 27 individually designed service evaluation projects, this questionnaire contains a number of different impact areas. Adopting an ecological perspective, these areas refer to music therapy’s perceived impact not only on service users, but also on families/carers/friends, staff, and the organisational context in its entirety. Following its original development within Nordoff Robbins England and Wales, this questionnaire was tested in the context of Nordoff Robbins Scotland with the aim of exploring its applicability and transferability to other music therapy settings. In addition to presenting the findings of this testing, we discuss the potential use of the IAQ, which is included as an appendix to this article, in other settings and its relevance for knowledge and policy making in the field.

Author Biographies

Giorgos Tsiris, Queen Margaret University; St Columba's Hospice, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Giorgos Tsiris, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Music Therapy at Queen Margaret University and Arts Lead at St Columba’s Hospice, Edinburgh. He is the editor-in-chief of ‘Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy’ and currently serves as the Chair of the ISME Commission on Special Music Education and Music Therapy. 

Neta Spiro, Royal College of Music

Neta Spiro, PhD, is Research Fellow in Performance Science at the Royal College of Music and an honorary Research Fellow at Imperial College London. She was previously Head of Research at Nordoff Robbins England and Wales.

Owen Coggins, Nordoff Robbins

Dr Owen Coggins is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Social & Political Sciences at Brunel University London. He is Secretary of the International Society for Metal Music Studies and trustee of record label and registered charity Oaken Palace. His monograph, Mysticism, Ritual and Religion in Drone Metal, published by Bloomsbury, was awarded the 2019 book prize of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.

Ania Zubala, University of the Highlands and Islands

Ania Zubala, PhD, is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Health Research and Innovation at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. Her research focuses primarily on arts therapies and their role for remote and ageing communities of the Nordic countries and beyond.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Tsiris, G., Spiro, N., Coggins, O., & Zubala, A. (2020). The Impact Areas Questionnaire (IAQ): A Music Therapy Service Evaluation Tool. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 20(2).