Personalized Music Playlists and Headphones in People with Dementia: A Literature Review


Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology




According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 55 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer's Disease International (2019) estimates that by 2050 this number is expected to rise to 152 million. With no available cure (WHO, 2021), non-pharmacological interventions have become a popular alternative in the treatment of the cognitive, behavioral, and psychological symptoms of dementia (Dementia Australia, 2020). A widely adopted option that come in different forms is music interventions and while the basic means remains music, some choose a more personalized approach and even less deliver music through over-ear headphones. A number of studies regarding the latter approach report positive outcomes; however, solid evidence on its benefits is scarce.The aim of this literature review was to locate the organizations and initiatives around the world that use the specific approach, explore the different methodologies, search for existing evidence on the interventions' efficacy and the symptoms they address, and look for any ongoing research on the subject. Furthermore, we aimed at investigating if there are any relevant initiatives in Greece.We systematically searched 16 databases and from 276 eligible records, we located 18 relevant studies that met our inclusion criteria and 1 literature review on music interventions for people with dementia. Our examination and analysis of those studies suggested that music interventions utilizing personalized music playlists and headphones result in positive outcomes, including mood improvement and a significant decrease of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. However, our analysis also pointed the need for further and more focused research.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Neurodegenerative Disorders; Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Behavioral State; Cognitive Abilities; Psychological Outcomes; Mood; Observational Measures; Music Medicine; Music Listening; Recorded Music Listening

Indexed Terms

Dementia; Australia; Alzheimer’s; Alzheimer Disease; Effect; Headphones; Non-pharmacological interventions; Personalized; Playlists; Psychosocial interventions

Study Type

Systematic Review; Quantitative Methods

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Document Type