Music Therapy for Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in the General Hospital: A Systematic Literature Review


Music and Medicine




Dementia and delirium are common in medical and surgical inpatients. Neuropsychiatric symptoms can be challenging to manage. Non-pharmacological interventions such as music therapy have been used to manage symptoms in psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes but are not routine in general hospitals. We performed a systematic literature review to establish whether music therapy improves neuropsychiatric symptoms in adults with dementia and/or delirium in the general hospital. We searched CINAHL, Medline and PsycINFO in November 2015. Search terms included music therapy, dementia, delirium. We screened 5054 titles, and read 142 full text articles. None of these met inclusion criteria for our review. To inform future research in music in general hospitals for people with dementia and/or delirium, we qualitatively reviewed 8 articles involving 239 patients. Music delivery was feasible and had a positive effect on some aspects of neuropsychiatric symptoms in various settings, but the studies were generally small, at high risk of bias, and did not use recognized frameworks for evaluating complex interventions. We found no robust published evidence for the use of music therapy in the treatment of neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with dementia and/or delirium in the general hospital. Well-designed studies of this promising intervention are needed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Hospital Setting; Mental Health; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Psychiatric Symptoms; Symptom Management

Indexed Terms

Delirium; dementia; neuropsychiatric symptoms; general hospital; Hospitals; Neuropsychiatry; Symptoms

Study Type

Systematic Review; Quantitative Methods

Document Type