Can Musical or Painting Interventions Improve Chronic Pain, Mood, Quality of Life, and Cognition in Patients With Mild Alzheimer's Disease? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial


Journal of Alzheimer's Disease




BACKGROUND: Among non-pharmacological therapies, musical intervention is often used for patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and patients presenting chronic pain. However, their efficacy is still under debate. OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to determine the efficacy of choral singing versus painting sessions on chronic pain, mood, quality of life, and cognition in AD patients. METHODS: In this multicenter randomized controlled trial, 59 mild AD patients were randomized to a 12-week singing (SG; n = 31) or painting group (PG; n = 28). Chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and quality of life were assessed before, after, and 1 month after the sessions. Cognitive abilities were assessed before and after interventions. The evolution of these different measures was assessed with mixed linear models. The primary data analysis was by intention-to-treat, and completed by a 'per protocol' approach. RESULTS: Both singing and painting interventions led to significant pain reduction (Time effect: F = 4.71; p = 0.01), reduced anxiety (Time effect: F = 10.74; p < 0.0001), improved Quality of Life (Time effect: F = 6.79; p = 0.002), improved digit span (F = 12.93; p = 0.001), and inhibitory processes (Time effect: F = 4.93; p = 0.03). Depression was reduced over time in PG only (Time x Group effect: F = 4.53; p = 0.01). Verbal Memory performance remained stable over time in SG, but decreased in PG (Time x group effect: F = 9.29; p = 0.004). CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that singing and painting interventions may reduce pain and improve mood, quality of life, and cognition in patients with mild AD, with differential effects of painting for depression and singing for memory performance.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Al; Anxiety; Chronic Pain; Cognitive Abilities; Depression; Elderly; Memory; Mental Health; Mood; Music Medicine; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Pain; Psychological Outcomes; Quality of Life; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a Song; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Elderly; Alzheimer Disease; Art Therapy; Chronic Pain; Cognition Disorders; Follow-Up Studies; Linear Models; Mood Disorders; Paintings; Quality of Life; Single-Blind Method; Alzheimer’s disease; anxiety; cognitive impairment; depression; pain

Study Type

Randomized Controlled Trial; Quantitative Methods

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