Effects of Group Music Therapy on Quality of Life, Affect, and Participation in People With Varying Levels of Dementia


Journal of Music Therapy




BACKGROUND: There is substantive literature reporting the importance and benefits of music and music therapy programs for older adults, and more specifically for those with dementia. However, few studies have focused on how these programs may contribute to quality of life. OBJECTIVES: Objectives for this exploratory study were: (a) to evaluate the potential effect of group music therapy program participation on the quality of life of older people with mild, moderate, and severe dementia living in a nursing home; (b) to identify and analyze changes in affect and participation that take place during music therapy sessions; and (c) to suggest recommendations and strategies for the design of future music therapy studies with people in various stages of dementias. METHODS: Sixteen participants (15 women; 1 man), with varying level of dementia participated in 12 weekly music therapy sessions. Based on Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) scores, phases of cognitive function were as follows: mild (n = 9; GDS 3-4), moderate (n = 5; GDS 5), and severe (n = 2; GDS 6-7). Data were collected using the GENCAT scale on Quality of Life. Sessions 1, 6, and 12 were also video recorded for post-hoc analysis of facial affect and participation behaviors. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in quality of life scores from pre to posttest (z = -0.824; p =0.410). However, there was a significant improvement in median subscale scores for Emotional Well-being (z = -2.176, p = 0.030), and significant worsening in median subscale scores for Interpersonal Relations (z =-2.074; p = 0.038) from pre to posttest. With regard to affect and participation, a sustained high level of participation was observed throughout the intervention program. Expressions of emotion remained low. CONCLUSIONS: Authors discuss implications of study findings to inform and improve future research in the areas of music therapy, quality of life, and individuals with dementia.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Elderly; Interpersonal Relations; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Quality of Life; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Affect; Elderly; Cognition; Dementia; Interpersonal Relations; Personal Satisfaction; Psychotherapy, Group; Quality of Life; Severity of Illness Index; affect; dementia; participation; quality of life

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

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