The Efficacy of Music Therapy for People With Dementia: A Meta‐analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials


Journal of Clinical Nursing




Aims and objectives: To (1) perform a meta‐analysis of randomised controlled trials pertaining to the efficacy of music therapy on disruptive behaviours, anxiety levels, depressive moods and cognitive functioning in people with dementia; and (2) clarify which interventions, therapists and participant characteristics exerted higher and more prominent effects. Background: Present study was the first to perform a meta‐analysis that included all the randomised controlled trials found in literature relating to music therapy for people with dementia over the past 15 years. Design: A meta‐analysis study design. Methods: Quantitative studies were retrieved from PubMed, Medline, Cochrane Library Database, CINAHL, SCOPUS and PsycINFO. A meta‐analysis was used to calculate the overall effect sizes of music therapy on outcome indicators. Results: Music therapy significantly improved disruptive behaviours [Hedges’ g = −0·66; 95% confidence interval (CI) = −0·44 to −0·88] and anxiety levels (Hedges’ g = −0·51; 95% CI = −0·02 to −1·00) in people with dementia. Music therapy might affect depressive moods (Hedges’ g = −0·39; 95% CI = 0·01 to −0·78), and cognitive functioning (Hedges’ g = 0·19; 95% CI = 0·45 to −0·08). Conclusion: Music therapy exerted a moderately large effect on disruptive behaviours of people with dementia, a moderate effect on anxiety levels and depressive moods, and a small effect on cognitive functioning. Relevance to clinical practice: Individual music therapy provided once a week to patients with cognitive functioning and manual guided in music intervention construction is suggested. Group music therapy is provided several times a week to reduce their disruptive behaviours, anxiety levels and depressive moods. Music therapy is a cost‐effective, enjoyable, noninvasive therapy and could be useful for clinical nurses in creating an environment that is conducive to the well‐being of patients with dementia. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Anxiety; Depression; Mental Health; Mood Scales; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Mood Scales

Indexed Terms

dementia; meta‐analysis; Cognitive Ability; Intervention; Anxiety; Behavior Problems; Major Depression; Public Health

Study Type

Meta-Analysis; Quantitative Methods

Document Type