Efficacy of Musical Interventions in Dementia: Methodological Requirements of Nonpharmacological Trials


Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences




The management of patients with Alzheimer's disease is a significant public health problem given the limited effectiveness of pharmacological therapies combined with iatrogenic effects of drug treatments in dementia. Consequently, the development of nondrug care, such as musical interventions, has become a necessity. The experimental rigor of studies in this area, however, is often lacking. It is therefore difficult to determine the impact of musical interventions on patients with dementia. As part of a series of studies, we carried out randomized controlled trials to compare the effectiveness of musical activities to other pleasant activities on various functions in patients with severe Alzheimer's disease. The data obtained in these trials are discussed in light of the methodological constraints and requirements specific to these clinical studies. Although the results demonstrate the power of music on the emotional and behavioral status of patients, they also suggest that other pleasant activities (e.g., cooking) are also effective, leaving open the question about the specific benefits of music in patients with dementia. All these findings highlight the promising potential for nonpharmacological treatments to improve the well-being of patients living in residential care and to reduce caregiver burden.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Behavioral State; Caregivers; Emotional Functioning; Mental Health; Music and Healing; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Self-Report Measures; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Alzheimer Disease; Behavior; Caregivers; Cognition; Dementia; Emotions; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Reproducibility of Results; Research Design; Alzheimer's disease; emotion; nonpharmacological treatment; randomized controlled trial

Study Type

Randomized Controlled; Trial; Quantitative Methods

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Document Type