A Preliminary Study of the Effects of Music Therapy on Agitation in Chinese Patients With Dementia


Hong Kong Journal of Psychiatry




Objective: Agitation was common in patients suffering from moderate to severe dementia, for which music therapy is one of the commonly used non-pharmacological interventions. This preliminary report addresses the effectiveness of music therapy for demented patients residing in a local care setting for the elderly. Patients and Methods: This was a crossover study. Fourteen patients with dementia exhibiting at least one type of agitated behaviour were recruited and divided into 2 groups. For 3 weeks, 1 group received music therapy and the other usual care with no special intervention. Thereafter, the 2 groups were crossed over with respect to the active and control interventions for further 3 weeks. Behaviour disturbances were measured by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory. Assessments were conducted before attending (pre-music or pre-control therapy); just after completion of music or control therapy (end-music or end-control therapy) and 3 weeks after music therapy (post-music therapy). Results: There were significant reductions of total Neuropsychiatric Inventory and Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory scores at the end-music therapy period (Wilcoxon signed rank tests, p < 0.001). Similar reductions were not found after usual care (end-control period). No lasting effects were observed after withdrawal of music therapy for 3 weeks (pre-music therapy vs post-music therapy; Wilcoxon signed rank tests, p = not significant). Conclusion: These preliminary results suggest that music therapy may have positive effects on behavioural disturbances manifested by demented elders. Although the effects were not persistent, music therapy may be considered for further research as a continuous means of reducing agitation in care settings for the older persons. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Adult Day Care; Agitation; Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Anxiety; Depression; Elderly; Interviews; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Psychological Outcomes

Indexed Terms

effects of music therapy; agitation; Chinese patients; dementia; elders; Treatment Outcomes; Aging; Chinese Cultural Groups

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

Document Type