Musical Intervention for Patients With Dementia: A Meta-analysis


Journal of Clinical Nursing




AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To provide a meta-analysis of the effects of music interventions on patients with dementia, separating, for the first time, between different types of interventions and different outcome measures, namely affective, behavioural, cognitive and physiological. BACKGROUND: Music therapy is an attractive form of intervention for the growing number of demented patients, for whom pharmacological interventions are not always effective and may lead to undesired side effects. While music is more frequently applied in clinical settings for each year, no meta-analysis has considered effects of music interventions on affective, behavioural, cognitive and physiological outcomes separately. DESIGN: A standard meta-analysis approach was applied. METHODS: We include all original studies found for the key words music and dementia. Mean effect sizes and confidence intervals are computed from study effect sizes according to standard methods, and these are considered for various common types of music interventions separately. RESULTS: Nineteen studies with a total of 478 dementia patients exhibit effect sizes ranging from 0·04-4·56 (M = 1·04). Many of these indicate large positive effects on behavioural, cognitive and physiological outcome measures, and medium effects on affective measures. CONCLUSIONS: Music interventions seem to be effective and have the potential of increasing the quality of life for patients with dementia. Many studies in this area suffer from poor methodological quality, which limits the reach of meta-analysis and the strength and generalisability of these conclusions. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Being inexpensive and largely without adverse side effects, current knowledge seems to indicate that music interventions can be recommended for patients in all stages of dementia.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Cognitive Abilities; Mental Health; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Psychological Outcomes; Quality of Life; Recorded Music Listening; Symptom Management; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms


Study Type

Meta-Analysis; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type