The Effect of Expressive and Instrumental Touch on the Behavior States of Older Adults With Late-stage Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type and on Music Therapist's Perceived Rapport

M. Belgrave


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of music therapy interventions utilizing two types of touch, expressive touch and instrumental touch, on the behavior states of older adults who have late-stage dementia of the Alzheimer's type. A secondary purpose of this study was to examine the perceived effectiveness of the music therapist when expressive and instrumental touch was employed during music therapy sessions. A within-subject design was used with 9 participants receiving 3 sessions in each of the experimental conditions: no touch, expressive touch, and instrumental touch. Results of a one-way ANOVA revealed that expressive touch was significantly more effective during the initial session in eliciting and maintaining alert behavior states than the instrumental and control conditions; however, there were no significant differences between the experimental and control conditions during the first and second session repetitions. Rapport ratings revealed that the therapist's client rapport was perceived to be significantly higher during both the expressive touch and instrumental touch conditions than during the control condition. These findings have important implications for music therapy practice and the effective use of nonverbal communication.