Observing Music Therapy in Dementia: Repeated Single-case Studies Assessing Well-being and Sociable Interaction


Clinical Gerontologist




OBJECTIVES: This study compared behavioral expressions of momentary well-being and sociable behavior toward significant others during music therapy and regular social interaction. METHODS: A 10-week active music therapy intervention was provided for people living with dementia and family caregivers. A bi-phasic AB single-case design was replicated for three sessions per dyad and coded using the Observable Well-being in Living with Dementia-Scale (OWLS) and the Verbal and Nonverbal Sociable Interaction Scale-Care Receiver (VNVIS-CR). Effect sizes (Log Response Ratio) were calculated for each session and analyzed with robust cluster meta-analysis. RESULTS: Eleven dyads were included, and 32 sessions analyzed (2102 observations). Within sessions we found a 48% increase in well-being, and a 32% increase in sociable interaction during music therapy. Heterogeneity was high. Dementia severity predicted an increase in nonverbal sociable interaction (93% for moderate dementia). Depression and time did not predict any change. CONCLUSION: The potential of music therapy to increase well-being and sociable interactions toward significant others calls for further investigation of heterogeneity and covariates. Single-case designs are demonstrated to be feasible for these investigations. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Preference-based music therapy may alleviate some of the individual and relational consequences of living with dementia, facilitating positive emotions and connection to significant others.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Caregivers; Emotional Functioning; Interpersonal Relations; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Caregivers; Dementia; caregiver; dementia; observation; single-case design; sociable interaction; well-being

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

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Document Type